For the love of reading
Editor’s note: This is the third of four weekly stories focusing on the third annual Literacy for Life initiative, which underscores the importance of literacy. The Nevada Appeal encourages readers to recommend favorite books. Send recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For as long as Challen Wright can remember, he’s loved books. As a child, he begged his parents to read him more than one bedtime story, sometimes negotiating up to five or seven a night.
“I really liked them reading to me,” he said. “But I really wanted to read myself.”
And as he’s grown, the passion has grown with him.
Serving as a library aide at Carson Middle School last year, he learned the Dewey Decimal System. It became the perfect solution to the challenge he was having organizing his books at home.
“It’s really good because now I know where each book should go,” he said.
He will even choose a good book – reading some of his favorites, like “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” by Daniel Handler, again and again – over television.
“TV’s fun and everything, but reading it, having that mini TV in your head, is more fun,” he said. “I really like learning new words and seeing how different authors write their stuff.”
He knows as a 14-year-old boy, it doesn’t make him cool with some of his peers.
“I’m OK with being called a geek,” he said. “I’m a nerd and I don’t care.”
Carson High School English teacher and Nevada Teacher of the Year Cheryl Macy doesn’t see anything nerdy about it.
“From a very concrete perspective, reading is a workout for the brain,” she said. “The more you’re challenging your brain, the better use you’re going to get out of it.”
She said reading is the key to learning new things as well.
“I still believe one of the best way to learn something is to sit down and read a book about it,” she said.
The book she’s reading now, “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School,” by John Medina, is helping her understand that.
“I’m learning a lot about how the brain works,” she said. “That’s something I wouldn’t learn anywhere else.”
Wright, who performs regularly as a member of the Wildhorse Children’s Theater and hopes to be an actor or director when he’s grown, believes his love of reading will help him do that.
“You have to be able to speak well,” he said. “You have to know challenging words and know how to use them correctly.”
Beyond the pragmatic, Macy said, reading for pleasure has its own rewards.
“It gives perspective to our lives,” she said. “It teaches us what it’s like to be someone else. It helps make us wiser, more compassionate human beings.”