Every year when July 4 so called Independence day comes around I always think about one of my heroes Frederick Douglass. He spoke so eloquently on July 5, 1852 reminding this country that people of African descent who were in this country were not independent, they were not free because of the horrible atrocities that were put upon them at the hands of white supremacy. He said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” He also asked the audience, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? Just in those few lines he spoke volumes. I also remember a famous quote Mr. Douglass said which is “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. Frederick Douglass who was an enslaved human being who was denied his basic God given right to be educated among the other rights that were stolen from him but, yet he was still able to learn how to read and what’s so amazing about this man is that not only was he very well read, he was also an excellent writer and orator. So, when I think of July 4 I am reminded of one of my heroes Frederick Douglass who said, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”
I have been reading this book called Readicide : How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it by Kelly Gallagher and I have to tell you it has been so spot on. A lot of the things that I talk about here in terms of children not having a lot of books at school or home, and how kids are being bombarded with preparing for tests and not viewing reading as pleasurable is just a few of the things that Mr. Gallagher has been addressing in his book. There is one thing though that I wanted to talk about briefly that he mentions in chapter three which is something called the reading flow. He said, he got that term from Csikszentmihalyi who is the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience who says, this is the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it. Gallagher says, ‘the flow’ is where we want all of our students to be. He continues to explain how teachers get so involved in trying to dissect and analyze the book that their students are supposed to read that they will keep stopping the ‘reading flow’ by continuously asking questions like, what was the author’s purpose, why did the character say that or what did the passage mean in hopes to get the student to really understand the book but, unfortunately what wounds up happening is that the students tend to get disinterested in the book and they just simply give up on that book or in reading altogether.
I wanted to share this with you all so that we can remind ourselves to help our children enjoy reading by allowing them to be immersed in a book so that they can view reading as a pleasurable and enjoyable experience. So let them pick out a book that they enjoy and of course you approve of then, let them get lost in the book without questioning them every five seconds on what was the author’s purpose. Just let the reading flow.