Love of reading develops from early discovery of favorite genres

“Goosebumps” saved my literary life.

I can already hear my English professors scowling at my seemingly random pick for why like I am decently versed in the world of literature. “Goosebumps”…really? Monster Blood made me a literary person?

Well, the simple answer is yes. The complex answer deals with how students learn to either enjoy reading or despise it with intense passion at an early age.

Why is it that when you ask most students if they like to read, they are more likely to laugh in your face than give you a real answer? It’s not because these people just don’t “get” it or because they don’t have the capability of reading. It’s because they never found their literary niche before deciding that reading was more of a waste of time then playing the same map in Call of Duty for three straight hours.

When I was in elementary school, I discovered the “Goosebumps” series, a children’s horror anthology series written by R.L. Stine that dealt with monsters, vampires and anything that would make children scared of the darkness under their bed. Needless to say, I was instantly hooked. From there on, I exposed myself to Stine’s young adult series Fear Street and eventually realized Stephen King was writing specifically for readers just like me.

Is this a phenomenon that only I have experienced? Not in the slightest. Ask anyone who loves to read when they first began, and I can almost promise it was in their childhood.

This is not a coincidence.

Children who are exposed to literature that they enjoy at an early age are going to enjoy reading more in adulthood. It’s not because they were forced to read, but because they found something they liked in childhood. I love reading now because I discovered the horror genre early on.

A great example of this experience is the “Harry Potter” series. Even though I’ve recently branded the young adult series as undeserving of canonical status, it would be impossible for me to deny its impact on readers of all ages and interests. Somehow, people who thoroughly despise reading seem to still universally enjoy the boy wizard and his adventures at Hogwarts.

I think a big justification for this was the timing of J.K Rowling’s series. We grew up alongside Harry, from adolescence to his adulthood, becoming more mature just as the novels did the same with each volume. While I enjoyed the first novel back in middle school for its originality and humor, I also enjoyed the last a decade later for the mature progression of the plot. The series mirrored our childhood progression.

Furthermore, “Goosebumps” achieved a similar goal. Instead of treating us like little kids who couldn’t handle visceral, frightening elements, R.L. Stine created novels that had one goal: Scaring the crap of out young readers. I wasn’t enthralled by cheesy tricks; I became obsessed because the novels treated me like a reader who was looking for some good ol’ scary entertainment.

So what does this all mean? Why am I rambling on about children’s literature when most people who are reading this will be into their twenties? I firmly believe that our early reading habits not only decide our future reading habits, but also our study skills and comprehension in class.

Learning to enjoy reading during childhood helped me become more efficient at studying because the act of reading is not a chore, but a personal resource. I don’t see my ability to read quickly and efficiently as a crutch. I utilize these skills in almost everything I do, especially since I am heading progressively closer to becoming an educator myself. If I understand the enjoyment in reading early on, I will be able to show my students why it is such an important resource when it comes to studying. It helps you focus more on the actual conceptual material instead of struggling to simply get through the reading.

Most importantly, helping young readers discover genres they enjoy should be a goal of not only future teachers like myself but anyone who realizes that reading is useful for life. Boredom is never an issue because there is an infinite amount of literature to read. Knowledge is that much easier to acquire because reading becomes easier and easier the more you practice.

So the next time you hear people announce that they don’t like to read because it’s just “boring,” ask them why exactly they find reading boring. I bet you it’s because they just haven’t found what they like yet.

Just give them a copy of a “Goosebumps” novel. They’ll thank you later.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 17th, 2014 and is filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.