By Nikki Wilson
I am not a Glee fan. I've only ever watched one episode and it wasn't my cup of tea. But there is one Glee actor I would kiss if I ever saw him in person. Let me tell you why.
I work at an elementary school as a reading tutor. I help kids on a daily basis to learn how to read. But my youngest child at home has been struggling with reading for years now. I've done everything I know how to get her to read. I realized that phonics didn't really work for her and I drilled her on sight words. As she got older, we read books together, mostly me reading to her, but she always lost interest and never wanted to finish any of the books she read. Out of desperation, I required her to listen to the Harry Potter books while she followed along in the book to help her learn the words audibly. This was working for awhile, she actually finished 4 of the books that way cover to cover. I was ecstatic! But around the 5th book, she lost interest in reading again. And she still had never finished reading a book cover to cover on her own without the audio version. (Which is quite alright to be honest, whatever it takes to get the kid reading is a good thing.) She was just never excited enough about a book to really enjoy reading. So I tried every book I could think of to try to find that ONE book that would open up the world of reading to her. But she wasn't excited about anything.
Well after her birthday, we went to Barnes & Noble. (Actually we were spying on her brother who was meeting a girl at the bookstore, but that's another story!) While we were there she remembered that she had some birthday money and she thought she would go look at the books to see if she wanted to buy one. (This is where I give a shout out to brick and mortar book stores. My daughter would have never been inspired to look at buying a book if they weren't all around her in such a pleasing manner.) We went to the kids section and she began looking at covers and turning the books over and reading the backs. Every book I showed her was declined right away. I soon realized she was rebellious enough to never pick a book I would recommend, so I let her look on her own, after all, she is 11 years old, which is quite old enough to choose her own book. It wasn't long before she came and found me clutching a book to her chest. "Mom, look at this book! It's called "The Land of Stories" and I want to buy it."
I'm a little skeptical at this point because this is the child that hasn't read a whole book on her own yet.
"I'm not buying an audio version of it. You will have to read the whole thing on your own. I'm not going to read it to you either. Are you sure you want to spend your birthday money on it?"
She assured me she would read the whole thing and that she really did want it. So we left the book store with a book!
In the next five weeks she proceeded to not only read the book, but came in to my room bursting with excitement about what had happened in the book everyday! She also would text me from her iPod giving me updates of what chapter she was on. Before I knew it, she had read the whole book all the while taking time to retell what had happened meaning, she not only read the book but comprehended it. And the best part? There was a book two in the series!! We went to the library and checked out the 2nd book which she read in THREE weeks this time!! Again, she was so excited about the story that I heard all about each chapter as she was reading it. She finished book 2 the day that book 3 came out in bookstores. This meant the library didn't have it yet and she didn't have anymore birthday money, but she was desperate for the third book. I mentioned that maybe it would be cheaper on Kindle and she could read it on her iPod. She suddenly remembered that she had an iTunes card from Christmas and wondered if she could buy it on iTunes. I learned she could if we downloaded the iBook app. Which is what we did and she was able to read the third book in just ONE week! This is my child that struggles with reading and it turned out all she needed was to find a book she loved to break through her reading problems!
So needless to say, the author of the Land of Stories series, Chris Colfer (who is also an actor on Glee) is my new favorite person and if I could, I would kiss that boy straight on the mouth!! (Though I don't think he would appreciate it, and it would probably result in a restraining order.)
The point I'm trying to make here is that every non-reader is really just a reader that hasn't found the right story. My sister was married with a child before she picked up the book, "Twilight" which ended up being the right story for her. Now she reads WAY more than I do. So as a writer, it's our job to tell our stories. You know what stories I'm talking about. The stories that are in your head, or part written in a notebook or computer file, or are completely written but unedited. They are the stories screaming at you to be finished. But you have a small voice in your head that says your stories aren't special, that they aren't good enough, that no one will read them. But that's not true. Your stories can be the right story for somebody, and by listening to that voice you could be denying a non-reader of the very book that would turn them into a reader for life. How special is that? We've been given a very special talent and we can use it to help others explore the world of reading.
So thank you to Chris Colfer and all the other authors out there who silenced that critical voice in their head and wrote the book that was the right book for someone!