It doesn’t feel right starting reading time without giving a little pep talk to the class. By this point (high school), reading for fun has occurred so infrequently that most kids in my classes hate the idea of reading. For them, it’s synonymous with cramming for their next English quiz, or skimming spark notes and getting the summary from the studious kid, or yet another dry paragraph about WWI in their textbook filled with names and dates, buy no faces, no smiles, no tears, no laughter, no life.
So, when I look out at their faces, with their Brandon Brown’s and Pablito’s and Sr. Wooly’s in their hands, and I think about how challenging it really is to fall in love with a book in their L2 when their L2 vocabulary is only a couple hundred words, when there’s really only about 10 or 20 easy-enough books to choose from, and with sleep in their eyes at 8 am when we start, I want to lift them up a bit.
The best is to tell them a personal story about reading in my own life. For example, recently I’ve been really struggling to recover from a hip surgery. And it’s starting to look like I’ll never get back from it… I’m having a hard time after school, when my only prospect is to go to the gym, where nothing has improved for months. All my other hobbies are (were) active, and are no longer possible.
But in this state of mind, I’ve turned to finishing up the Harry Potter series in Spanish. I just finished the 5th. And the last 150 pages are just fantastic. It’s the perfect mix of challenge in my L2, awesome reading, and reminiscence about snuggling up with the HP books the first time around in English in middle and high school. Talk about turning around a bad afternoon.
But when I don’t have or can’t make up a personal anecdote, I like to read an inspirational quote about reading to the class. The goal here is not only for them to learn some Spanish, but to fundamentally discover a joy of reading that will spill over into their L1, into their identities. So, I gravitate toward quotes that are about the pleasure of reading in general, not just for L2 improvement, although I do throw one of those in from time to time.
So, here’s a quick list of quotes that I liked for you to use:
· Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. –Mason Cooley
· Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
· There is no friend as loyal as a book. –Ernest Hemingway
· There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all. –Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
· You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books and that’s kind of the same thing.
· Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood. –John Green
· If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. –Haruki Murakami
· A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.–Neil Gaiman
· We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too
· A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it.–Edward P. Morgan
· The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. –Dr. Seuss
· You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. –Paul Sweeney
· We read to know that we are not alone.–William Nicholson
· Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.–Frederick Douglas
· Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul.—Joanne Harris
· A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor
· Reading is a bridge from misery to hope. —Kofi Annan
· Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx
· A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, “How to Build a Boat.” —Stephen Wright
· A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic. —Carl Sagan
· Comics are a gateway drug to literacy. —Art Spiegelman
· “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates
· “Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.” — Nora Ephron
· “A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility what human nature is of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.” — Susan Sontag
· “Reading brings us unknown friends.” — Honoré de Balzac