This week, I read The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg and Holes by Louis Sachar. I read both of these books when I was in fifth grade, and I remembered really enjoying them as a child. Holes was an assigned book that we read as a class and The View from Saturday was a graduation gift from my teacher. She wrote a little note in the front cover that made me smile, so I decided to reread it. I truly enjoyed reading these books again.
Reading books as a child and as an adult are two completely different experiences. Though I remembered the basic plot of each book, reading the books again years later allowed me to pick up on so many things I had missed before. Foreshadowing, description, deeper meanings, and character development were all lost on me before. I didn’t care about the writing style before; I only cared about the plot. It was a complete revelation! It was almost as if I was reading the books for the first time.
I think it’s a very good thing that I reread these books–it gave me the opportunity to see literature from my current point of view and juxtapose it with how I saw things as a child. Even though I was an avid reader, I was nowhere near the point I am now. It’s completely possible to forget as a teacher that some literary techniques are lost on kids. They’re perfectly capable of understanding them, of course, but they tend not to care. Why talk about the style of the writing and the underlying message when you really only want to read the next chapter? I care about these things, but I have an English degree. Most of my kids will not go on to read and fully appreciate the things I love about books.
It’s important to remember these differences while teaching readers in the classroom. They aren’t as interested in the books as we, as teachers, are. If they can engage themselves with the text, it may come. Most will need time and prompting, however, to be able to dig into the text. Adolescents can be brilliant, but if they are disinterested or disengaged, it will never happen.