I love to read. A lot. But for the sake of my writing here, I feel the need to define what that means. It seems weird to "define" reading, but there are so many viewpoints out there I just want to get my view point out there so we are all on the same page. Or screen. Or whatever.
Aparently there are debates among readers about what "counts" as reading. Doesn't that sound goofy? What counts. We aren't in third grade here, but according to Daniel Willingham the aggression aimed at audio books could be an elementary school hold out. When we think people are using a device that gives them an advantage we challenge them and get upset, but really, if information and ideas are spread, aren't we all winning?
I am a promiscuous reader. That may sound bad, but it doesn't mean I read smutty or inappropriate material, rather my reading is characterized by indiscriminate mingling or association with a variety of formats. When I say, "I read ______." I may be referring to any of the following formats. This is what I love to read:
“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” ― Stephen King
One of the reasons I say that I read instead of I listened to is that often people will not discuss a book with someone who merely listened to it. On several occasions I've talked to people who feel uncomfortable calling themselves readers because they listen to audio books. Sometimes these people struggle with dyslexia or other learning disabilities yet still love powerful writing and moving storytelling. They've experienced Jane Eyre and The Devil in the White City, but don't feel worthy to participate in discussions about it because they've heard that listening doesn't count. I want to discuss ideas and books with all who love books instead of promoting snobbery.
Audio books are an excellent way to get kids lost in a great story without the stress of decoding text. Their brains are still breaking down information and making sense of the language. They can develop a love for stories before they gain the ability to read complex writing. When he was in second grade, Logan and I listened to the Lord of the Rings together and Logan followed every word. This was long before he could have tackled a book like this on his own and we didn't have enough time before bed to tackle the three volume masterpiece. Kids do need to spend significant time with text to work on those decoding skills, but audio books can be great companions on road trips or daily errands. (If you're interested in other benefits of audio books click here.)
I don't read because I enjoy the feeling of my eyes decoding text into words. I read because I love to gain the information and experience the sense of getting lost in a marvelous story. As I talk about things I've read I will not differentiate the formats of the books. If you are curious about my reading you can check out my goodreads account. I read a great variety and often I read things I do not agree with to challenge myself with new ideas and to make myself aware of opposing viewpoints. If you are curious about a particular book, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Matching books to people is one of my favorite things.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."