I can’t remember not knowing how to read, but I do remember when I couldn’t do it very well. I was eager to have others read to me, and my parents still mention how tired they became of my requests to hear Cinderella.
As I grew up, I discovered other books. I was a huge fan of the Berenstain Bears, and when I was old enough to read novels, I fell in love with Judy Blume’s books. But it wasn’t until I was twelve, near the end of grade seven, when I came across the book that changed my life.
I remember the day I pulled it off the shelf in the library. I needed to choose a new book for silent reading time in class. When I saw The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, I remembered my older brother mentioning that he’d read it. I decided to give it a try.
Grade seven was a terrible year for me, and I was miserable almost every day I spent at school. But all those bad feelings disappeared during that short period we had for silent reading.
Looking back, I can’t say for sure why this book meant so much to me. I was a preteen girl reading about two rival groups of teenage boys. I couldn’t relate to what the characters experienced, but I could relate to how they felt. I suspect most adolescents feel like outsiders.
The Outsiders also introduced me to the poetry of Robert Frost, as one of his poems is featured in the book. I quickly sought out more of Frost’s work, and he’s still one of my favourite poets.
Prior to the day I pulled The Outsiders from the library shelf, I already loved to read and write. It’s possible that, subconsciously, I knew the power of the written word. But this book allowed me to fully see, feel and understand that power for the very first time in my life. And that has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.
6 thoughts on “Silent reading”
Great post! I remember reading an interview with S. E. Hinton in which she said that she didn’t think boys and girls were as different as most people think. For some reason, that quote always stuck with me, so it’s not surprising that you would identify with the characters in The Outsiders. 🙂
Thanks, Dana! It’s true; there’s much more to identity than just gender.
I understand what you say Nicky.
Reading distracted me too and help me to cope with extremely difficult situations. Unfortunately, I stopped reading many years ago.
I wonder if I read The Outsiders. Most of the books I read where translated to Spanish and sometimes the title was changed.
Thank you for sharing.
José-Carlos, since I know you like movies, you might be interested to know it was made into a film in the 1980s. Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez and Matt Dillon are all in it. But the book is better (of course I’d say that), and there’s more in it than what was included in the movie.
Nicky, we are the same person. This is scary. 😉
I discovered The Outsiders in grade seven, too. The film came out that year, also (dating myself), so you can imagine what kind of an impact the story had on my life. I saw the movie 8 times in the theatres when it came out and had a huge argument with my mom because we had a family engagement interfering with me seeing it a ninth time! I could recite the opening paragraph and I can still recite the Robert Frost poem (plus many segments from the film) today. I recently re-watched the film and, though somewhat cheesy, I think it holds up.
“Gotta do it for Johnny, man…gotta to it for Johnny!” 😉
And Tom Waits is in the film! So that makes it even cooler. 🙂