I love this picture of me because it shows my first love affair. I am deeply, madly, passionately in love with reading and with words and with narratives of any kind. It plays out in my love of history, my love of objects, and museums, and learning. It bleeds into everything I do and everything I am.
I have vivid memories of reading as a child. Exquisitely detailed memories of entire afternoons spent on my bed reading. I define years of my life by books and if I want to remember or go back to a time past I pick up the books and authors that are woven into that time in my memories.
This TED Talk hits on everything I love about reading and about fiction.
Adults don’t keep enough fiction in their lives. We don’t do a good enough job of remembering what it was like for us to believe in stories the way our students do.
I have to admit I have been struggling with how to take a bit of the fiction out of my son’s life. When he was 8 he got this letter, an acceptance letter to Hogwart’s. It came by Owl Post 😉
Purchased by me from Etsy and personalized for him. I thought it was an adorable idea. My son is a die hard Harry Potter fan. I asked the person who created it to please add one tidbit in the letter, that my son couldn’t go to Hogwart’s until he was 11. I figured by the time he was 11 he would have outgrown Harry Potter and seen that it was not real.
I was wrong.
When he was 9 he got upset with the librarian at school for labeling the book as fiction. He told me the librarian was crazy. Last year when I changed jobs he stewed over the decision to go to a new school or Hogwart’s. He settled on saying no to Hogwart’s because his transcripts from Hogwart’s may not look good enough to get him into law school. Wizardy classes and all. And this year when I told him Hogwarts wasn’t real he looked at me like I was the devil and told me I was lying. I couldn’t convince him.
So, needless to say, he still believes in Hogwart’s and Harry Potter.
I’ve been worried about it until now, until I saw this TED Talk. What’s wrong with him keep a little fiction in his life? What’s wrong with any of us keeping those stories that make us who we are so close to our hearts? What’s wrong with believing in the fantastic, for dreaming big, or believing the world is more than what we see?
There’s nothing wrong with it. He is the kind of reader any teacher would want. The kind that gets wrapped up in a story. He’s the kid who hears “stop reading” more than he hears “go read a book.” He’s the kid those authors wrote for. The world they built with words is real to him. One day those words will be him comfort. Those stories will frame the timeline of his life and they will be the footnotes of his life. One day he will show his kids his Hogwarts acceptance letter and they will believe and all those stories will live on and on.
In my world I am going to do better about suspending my disbelief and opening my mind with fiction. Those small bits of fiction may be the key to my creativity and empathy and my drive.