Teachers today mourn the fact that students do not read anymore. These digital netizens simply skim over internet soundbites, FB messages, watch vlogs, MTVs, and videos of their choice. Therefore, they struggle writing a decent sentence with a coherent idea.
Well, yes, but there are exceptions to that observation. And those exceptions are exceptional!
I had 19 of them in one room one day this month—children aged 8 to 12, who voraciously read and love to write. They were gathered by HIYAS, OMF Literature’s imprint for children’s books, for a creative writing workshop, which I was privileged to facilitate.
From 9 AM to 12 noon, they were attentive and enthusiastic, doing all the exercises with gusto. They were quick thinkers, too, writing ideas within the short minutes given them. Asked to each read a storybook, they tackled the pages immediately.
You can easily tell a reader from a non-reader. Upon seeing a book, the reader’s eyes twinkle before he grabs and reads the first page—not stopping till he gets to the back cover, lapping up even the blurb. In contrast, the non-reader's eyes meander; he sets the book aside and manages to do everything but read it.
(I took my grandson, Adrian, to a book store when he was here for vacation. He ran past the toys and went straight to the book section. After about half an hour scanning through many books, he started to cajole me into buying him one. He didn't have to utter one word, I bought him two.)
At the OMF Lit creative writing workshop, I was reminded of Adrian 19 times. Here were children who behaved for three straight hours, pausing only to eat a sandwich and drink some juice. But even while having snacks, they were either reading the books strewn on the table or writing.
One day, some of these reading children will be authors. Those who will choose other careers will remain readers.
For a teacher, meeting exceptional kids is exceptional grace.