Yeah, you heard me right. Kindergarten may seem like a fond, distant dream, but I’m not talking about ABC’s and phonetics. I’m talking about reading. Let me explain myself.
In fifth grade, you probably enjoyed Because of Winn-Dixie. You received a numbered copy along with everyone else in your class and merrily charted the adventures of Winn-Dixie and company through pop quizzes, simple study guides, and big posters with lots of glue and (maybe) glitter. In middle and junior high school, things became more demanding. Analyzing humans instead of dogs, you learned how to read for ‘plot,’ and ‘metaphor,’ and ‘conflict.’ Even if you were making posters at the end, you learned how to discuss, make arguments, and find hidden meanings in the text. By high school, you are doing even more. By senior year, you may be handed a poem or a passage from a text under the instruction to critically read.
This is the type of reading I’m here to teach you about today. There is a difference between Winn-Dixie and critically reading. While the former is crucial for your foundation in reading—really learning how to enjoy a good story—the latter is fundamental to your high school, college, and professional career.
“[Shakespeare] is for anyone who is interested in navigating the real world,” Mack asserts. “By getting to know Shakespeare, you have a tremendous opportunity for getting to know yourself.”
Other blogs, articles, and columns (including one shy thread on Yahoo! Answers) cite Shakespeare’s use of complex characters, brilliant lyric, intriguing plots, and the plays’ historicity. Lars Nilsen, in Badass Digest, even goes so far as to say: “You should read Shakespeare because he tells a better story than any other author, any filmmaker, anyone at all, because he tells your story.”
But at the end of the day, why should you pick up that dusty copy of Much Ado About Nothing? Why soldier through the life-and-death pondering of Hamlet? What do a pair of star-crossed lovers have anything to do with the 21st century with its i-phones and i-schedules and i-don’t-have-time-for-xyz’s?
Everything. Professor Mack is right: Shakespeare teaches you about the world, particularly the one that will be opening up for you very soon. College. And I don’t just mean in English 101.
[Continue reading to learn about HOW Shakespeare teaches you about the world]
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Since I was four years old, I have wanted to become a writer. I have considered various other life paths, from law and medicine to teaching and social work, but I always come back to writing. Journals, stories, poems, articles, starting up a creative writing magazine, and a few ill-fated NaNoWriMo novels occupied most of my free time in middle school and high school. I started sending poems out to literary magazines and competitions, receiving mountains of rejection slips in return. Finally, I had some luck. I was placed third in the 2008 Christopher Tower Poetry competition, and my poem “Heat” was published in their 2008 pamphlet. Nii Parkes, the director of flipped eye press, read my poem and was a drawn to it. He contacted me about publishing a small poetry collection with flipped eye. From winter 2008 until spring 2011, I worked on my manuscript with Nii Parkes and the wonderful Jacob Sam-La Rose. In April 2011, I was holding my début pamphlet, “Every Single One”, in my hands. This summer, I am an editorial intern for a publishing company in Manhattan.
What am I talking about?
This post is the first in a small series about writing. I hope that my posts will be useful not just to students who love writing, but those at every level of ability and interest. Learning to write well is a lifelong process – there is no such thing as a “perfect writer”, and absolutely everyone can improve. In my posts I will cover a variety of topics, from different types of writing to furthering your creativity. This post starts with the fundamental question: how can you write if you don’t read?
[Continue reading to learn about the importance of reading]