Why Read?

Dear Lit for Kids Readers,
In the 1990s, high school teacher Jim Burke decided to write the San Francisco Chronicle asking readers to answer his students’ constant question: why read?  He got over 1,000 responses, and this was before the days when everyone could just type up an email and click send!  Later, Mr. Burke compiled the best letters into a book titled I Hear America Reading: Why We Read – What We Read.
As my own eighth grade students got ready to leave middle school behind, I began reading them some of my favorite letters from this collection.  However, I also thought that they were just as qualified to answer this question as anyone.  I asked them to write their own “why read” letters to the seventh grade students that will be entering my classroom this fall; however, after reading through their answers, I realized that these letters needed to travel beyond Hillsboro, Oregon.
Here, in the words of fourteen year olds, is why we should all read.  Some of these include recommended books and authors, others offer insights into the writer’s own reading biography.  All are written with passion, humor, and individualism that I admire.  I hope these letters will be shared with other students, teachers, and parents.  Most importantly, I hope these encourage you to discover your own reading inspirations!
Keep reading,
Erin Ocón

(The kids all said such insightful and funny things that we decided to pull one quote from each letter to give you a little taste.  Click through to read each student’s full essay.)

Words of wisdom and inspiration from:

“You could change the world.  Reading could change the world.” – Arial Eatherton

“Books may just look like a bunch of paper with boredom written all over the pages but it’s not!” – Raquel Causey

“Well, believe it or not but it’s one of the things that makes us more creative.” – Ali Borchert

“Books are some of my favorite things to read.” – Selena Cardoza

“I’m not the one to judge, but if you don’t read you could be stupid forever.” – Katlyn Bivins

“Reading has an influence on me.  When I read I want to write.” – Shanaz Ahmed

“Books can never get mad at you or break up with you.” – Taylor Kinnersley

“I have learned that it takes time for someone to find a book they truly and really enjoy.” – Cassandra Garcia

“The question is why read; my answer is why not read.” – Bailey Pelkey

“Words spill fluidly out of books and give you a new experience every time you pick a new one up.” – Hannah Poff

“You may not know it, but sometimes reading a good book can help you get through the tough times in life.” – Kaitlan Gantt

“I won’t tell you that reading changed my life or saved it, because it didn’t.  However, I will tell you this:  it’s my escape, or one of them anyway.”  –  Ashley D. Halicki

“I would rather be outside, but reading is fun.”  – Austin Lloyd

“Reading a book is like reading the script of a movie, but you get to pick the actors!” – Areyanna Gardiner

“I wouldn’t exactly say that books can change your life, but I think that sometimes they can offer an escape.” – Lexi Crane

“Personally, I believe reading is even better than seeing a movie.” – Keanna Barnes

“The next time you want to soar on the back of a dragon, or swim to the bottom of the deepest sea, turn to books.” – Kelsey Bruce

“Slowly, but surely, I started to love reading, but I still had a hard time…” – Eleana Dan

“I have learned that your mind can come up with some of the best special effects you will ever see (or should I say imagine?).” – Emma Orton

“You also learn a lot of life lessons, like never regret anything, never give up, don’t keep any promises, and many others.” – Adrian Gonzaga

“Heck, if you have a cell phone you probably read every day!” – Allie Williams
“Books can take you to another world, or sometimes just change your view on the world we live in.” – Tashi Flaig

“Anne Frank can take you on an inside look to the Holocaust, while Dr. Seuss introduces you to ‘one fish, two fish, read fish, blue fish’ and ‘green eggs and ham’.  Reading can take you anywhere, all you have to do is turn the page.”  – Hailey Bishop


3 Responses to Why Read?

  1. Thanks for sharing these. You selected lovely and insightful quotes from your students. I think my favorites two quotes are, “Books are some of my favorite things to read,” and “Books can never get mad at you or break up with you.” Brilliant!

  2. ruthlit says:

    Yes, aren’t they amazing? We were blown away by the kids’ insights–and eloquence. Thanks for writing! Ruth

  3. Erin Ocon says:

    Elisa and Ruth – thanks so much for your comments! I am lucky enough to have spent two years teaching these amazing writers/readers and I’m glad to know that others have been inspired by them.

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