Throughout my years as a social worker, I met many young people who said they hated to read. Every time I heard that sentiment, it broke my heart, although I understood the reasons behind it. Most of them didn’t have early exposure to literacy. They weren’t read to when they were little. They were moved around a great deal, which meant both home and educational instability. At school, they were identified as poor readers. When they had to read aloud, they were mocked by their peers. Through those experiences, they were taught that reading was too hard – that it was something reserved for kids who were different from them – and they learned to resent the written word.
The tragedy of this recurring ordeal is that the people who learn to hate reading are the very same ones who need and deserve the advantages reading can offer. Reading awakens creativity, boosting one’s ability to tackle problems with innovative solutions. Reading broadens a person’s vocabulary and knowledge base, thereby increasing access to social, academic, and professional circles that might otherwise be out of reach. And reading offers a critical escape route – it is a perfect (and oftentimes free) coping mechanism, allowing people to take a break from reality and relax someplace else for a bit.
Reading alters perspectives. It can make the ordinary seem magical.
When I decided to write books, I had two objectives. One was to share compelling stories that would entertain readers, and the other was to make those stories accessible enough for even the most vehement non-readers to enjoy. Because I’ve witnessed the beauty of those conversions – when stories are written in a way that takes people from “I hate reading!” to “I need to tell you about this book!” When those same folks can’t put a book down, because they’re so intrigued. When they anxiously anticipate the next volume in a series, or go to see a movie and report, “It was good, but not as good as the book.”
Because when that happens, people learn that books are meant for them, not just for the jerks who teased them in class. They realize that there are millions of other pieces of writing out there, and they decide to check some out. They start talking to other people about what they’ve read. Worlds open up. Perspectives change. Harmful cycles are disrupted. Some even start to write. They tell their own stories. They discover they’re capable of more than anyone, even they themselves, ever dreamed.
New & different heights = New & different views
That’s who I write for. Of course I want to appeal to a broad audience, but my hope is to reach those who believe they don’t like to read. I want them to realize that books are for them. I want them to embrace new identities as lovers of reading, because they deserve that luxury and all of its benefits. I want them to see that the world has a great deal to offer, and nothing should limit their potential.
And I know this is possible, because I’ve seen it happen, and it sure would be an honor to be part of that process.
One thought on “Writing for Skeptics”
Beautifully written Kelly! This is why, most of the time, I buy books for children as gifts.
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