One of my sisters, a teacher, recently asked me to write a letter to a bunch of 6-8-year-old kids about why reading books is fun. I had to think about this one. I have been reading books from a very early age and it has been a daily habit like brushing teeth. For readers like me, there are many reasons why we read and what we get out of it. But, to communicate this in ways that children can understand? Well, I tried, as you see below. She is going to use it with her students and we’ll see if it turns even one of them into an avid reader.
You know how you love to watch movies or shows? How it’s great fun to see how others have exciting adventures with their friends/family? How they solve problems or they do magic or they sing and dance as they play or work? And, best of all, how they get to go to amazing new places and meet interesting new people? Oh, they get into trouble or get lost sometimes too. But, in the end, they always figure out the right way and the right place to be, don’t they?
When you read a book, you get to create those fun movies/shows inside your own head. You get to decide how quickly or slowly you want that movie/show inside your head to happen. And you get to decide who’s in your movie/show. Even better, you get to put yourself in this book movie/show by imagining that you’re one of the people in the story. So that, even though it looks like you’re just sitting in one place and reading, in your mind, you’re also actually in the story having all the fun and excitement. It’s so much better than just watching others having fun, isn’t it? And, guess what, in this book movie/show inside your head, you can become as many different people as you want to be — ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Isn’t that amazing?
And, you know what’s EVEN better than making movies/shows inside your head? When you take your time to quietly read a story in a book, it will slowly tell you even more secrets than you can see in a movie/show. These secrets are about the things in life that might sometimes scare you or sometimes confuse you or be like locked mysteries that usually only grown-ups know. Wouldn’t you like to know these secrets? Wouldn’t you like to find out? They are hidden deep inside all the books of the world and just waiting for you to come read them and find them. There are many, many secrets sometimes in just one single book, but you have to sit with it quietly and read it carefully. Otherwise, they will stay hidden from you. You might need to ask a grown-up to help you discover them sometimes, but, most times, it’s more fun if you try to do it yourself.
You know, once upon a time, there were many little kids just like you. They loved to read too. So they read all the books they could get and slowly found out all the mysteries and secrets from them. And, when they figured out these secrets, they were able to make even better movies in their heads from all the stories. Best of all, they were not scared or confused about things they did not know; or lonely because their friends sometimes weren’t nice to them. They understood that the secret to anything they wanted to know could be discovered in books. They just had to find as many books as they could and read them. In a way, the books became their best friends, helping them have amazing adventures in their minds, telling them stories and secrets, helping them to be less scared or confused.
Then, when these kids became grown-ups, they looked around and saw other new kids who were scared or confused just like they used to be. These grown-ups wanted to help the new kids. So they wrote lots of books and filled them with magical secrets that explained many mysteries of the world. And the new kids started to find these books and read them. Slowly, slowly, they became happier and stronger. They stopped being scared or confused about strange things in the world. They also realized they could find out answers to all kinds of things in books. That books were really the best friends ever. They would rush home after school and, as soon as they were done with their homework, they would go to their home library and pick out their books to read every day. And, if they didn’t find an answer or a secret right away in the first book, they’d read it carefully again or look for another.
But, you know, the magic and the power of books is that every book has many hidden secrets and answers — if you just take the time to discover them. When you start to do that with the books you read, that magic and that power will never ever leave you. Not only that, you will be able to help other kids once you have that magic and power forever inside you. Now, isn’t that wonderful?