You’ve got the power

 

Super s

If I had the ability to bestow upon each of you a super power of your choosing, what would you choose?

I’m sure you’d be eager to accept with a suggestion immediately. I am not an exception. I would love to be able to control time, to make it go faster or slower when I want, and basically to just have more of it.

But the reality is that each of us reading this post, myself included, already has one of the most amazing super powers available: the ability to read. Living in a print saturated world as we do, the ability to read is essential for full participation. Not surprisingly, but perhaps also a little sadly, those of us who can, tend to take it for granted.

The love of reading is gift

I am a compulsive reader. I read everything everywhere. I wish I could stop myself reading the signs on the back of the toilet doors for the umpteenth time, but it’s virtually impossible. This is not my genre of choice. Many of us bemoan the fact that we do not have enough time to read all the wonderful material available to us.

studentbooks

Time is not my only reading frustration. As I age my eyesight is changing and even with the assistance of reading glasses I struggle (and often fail) to read the fine print on labels or in instructions. Not only that, my eyes tire more quickly now than ever before and the physical act of reading is not as pleasurable as it once was.

However, even with these frustrations, I am one of the lucky ones.  Not everyone in the world is as fortunate as I with my lack of time and failing sight. While the literacy rates around the world are improving, there are still too many suffering the disadvantages that result from inadequate opportunities to acquire an education in general, and specifically, the ability to read. Even in our midst there are those who, for various reasons, have failed to become literate.

The empowering effect of the ability to read and of acquiring a quality education is never far from my mind or my blog. If you were to type the word “power” into the search button at the top right of my blog you would find at least ten posts with the word “power” or “empowerment” in the title, including

The power of reading

The power of imagination

The power of words, and

Empowerment – the importance of having a voice.

This week at the Carrot Ranch Communications Charli Mills is talking about power and has challenged writer to in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that explores the question, “What good is power?”  What choice did I have but to discuss the empowering effect of reading, an ability that is a right of everyone.

reading

Super Power

Bored with responses as repetitious as their store-bought costumes, he scanned the room of superheros, wondering how many more interviews to fulfil his quota. Spying a child sans costume, he winked at the camera crew and moved in, the opportunity to highlight another’s inadequacies all too alluring.

“And what superhero are you?” he smirked.

The child held out a book, drawing artefacts from within its pages. “I am a reader. I can soar on dragon wings, explore the Earth, and the farthest galaxy. I can fill my head with imaginings, or discoveries new and old. Reading: my Super Power.”

Thank you

Thank you for using your Super Power. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

41 thoughts on “You’ve got the power

  1. ellenbest24

    A superb post Norah thank you. I think reading liked me more than I liked reading,. I can’t remember ever not listening to reading or reading out loud to my sisters, I do remember being told my making up stories were just a way to lie on paper 😮😕

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your wonderful comment, Ellen. I like that – stories are lying on paper – but stories that people want to hear, and hopefully get paid (if only a trifle), rather than punished, for! 🙂

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  2. julespaige

    Big smile. Though my children, I think anyway, do not read so much for pleasure, it is that ability to read and interpret what they have read into their professions that makes them the individuals that they are. I also continue to encourage my grandchildren to read. Even when they are very young and tell me that they do not know the words – I tell them they are reading when they tell me about what they see on the pages of their books. The memorization of what the words are to the symbols on the page will come in time along with how to build and write.

    I think I might have mentioned our library has a program to encourage the younger children to read. ‘1,000 books before Kindergarten’. Little Miss (just with the books and reading at Grama’s house) is close to 300 books already ( in just about the 3 months we’ve been doing the program and she is just a tad over 2 1/2). I love watching her play and incorporating the characters she has read about. Her brother’s class has a traveling giraffe named Spot – so now every giraffe she sees is ‘Spot’, well except for Gerald who is the star of the book ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here, Jules. It’s interesting what you say about your children’s choice of reading material. The ability to read for purposes other than sheer enjoyment is so essential, and is probably the strongest need. Those who are unable to read to perform even the daily tasks of life we readers take for granted, like reading a bus timetable, a menu, a street sign, a bank account record, are at such a disadvantage.
      Encouraging an interest in books and love of reading as you are with your grandchildren is a wonderful thing. Knowing that books provide information and meaning as well as enjoyment is empowering. Learning to unlock their meaning unassisted, as you say, will come in time; but you are laying a firm foundation to enable that to occur.
      I love the sound of that “1,000 books before kindergarten” program. I’m not sure what age children attend kindergarten over there, but here it’s about 3. One thousand books would be approximately one a day which would be marvelous. It would fit perfectly with the recommendation of Mem Fox for parents to read to their children for 10 minutes every day. Do you know if it implies one thousand different books? That could be a little difficult, unless one lives close to a library. It certainly highlights the need to read, and I wouldn’t think the expectation should be for 1,000 different books. Children do have their favourites that they like to hear over and over, and that serves a great purpose in reading development also.
      I love the sound of the travelling giraffe named Spot. I guess he visited the homes of the children. I do have a very soft spot for Gerald, though. That is a gorgeous book.
      Enjoy these special times with your Grands. It is a wonderful experience for all. 🙂

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      1. julespaige

        Here there is day care; infant and up…(when wanted or needed) then nursery school or even pre-school (mostly out of pocket for parents – these programs are not free) until ages 5 or 6 that’s when public Kindergarten, usually a half day in most places but a full day some private schools starts.

        When my grandson was in pre-school (he was in for three days last year) they had started on word recognition.

        Anyway the basic thing For the 1,000 books is to : “Write down each book that you share together, it’s OK to read the same book over and over again. Books that you read at home, at the library, at school or daycare count. – so you see repeated books are fine, because the child gets to recognize the words in context.

        Books are like that one potato chip commercial once you start you can’t stop… most little ones might have a favorite book but I think on most days one can read 3, 5, even ten books a day.

        Remember these are children’s books – cardboard books, books with just ten words that repeat, or if they can sit through chapter books… Well I have this one book that has three separate stories, and I count each one as a single.

        If one only read to their children at night for ten minutes… eek. I guess I’m just more interested in books than that. I think one could read at least 30 minutes to an hour a day to their children.

        When my boys were younger one of the teachers had a traveling bear. Another did a traveling ‘Flat Stanley’ who could be mailed to different places or back from vacations. The whole idea behind ‘Spot’ and other travelling animals is for the children to tell or write about the adventures the animal has.

        http://www.amazon.com/Move-Board-book-Robin-Page/dp/0547240007

        I like this book because it has animals, actions and I also ask Little Miss what letters she recognizes out of the bigger letters on the page.

        I hope this all helps 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          Hi Jules, Thank you for these additional comments. When you said about kindergarten being for 5-6 year olds I remembered that some states in Australia call their first year of formal schooling kindergarten. In Queensland we refer to it as prep.
          I’m pleased the 1,000 books can include repetitions; and I agree with you about the joy in reading to children for more than ten minutes a day. Mem Fox suggested it as a minimum, not a maximum. For you and I who love books and have them easily accessible it is no problem. For others with time constraints and little knowledge of the value of reading, it can be difficult. In her book Mem says, “It stands to reason that if we’re able to raise happier, brighter children by reading aloud to them, the well-being of the entire country will ramp up a notch. Children who realise in their first few weeks and months of life that listening to stories is the purest heaven; who understand that books are filled with delights, facts, fun and food for thought; who fall in love with their parents, and their parents with them, while stories are being shared; and who are read aloud to for ten minutes a day in their first five years, usually learn to read quickly, happily, and easily.”
          I thought Spot must have visited the families. The bear that visited the children in your son’s class sounds lovely too. I used to do the same thing, sending “visitors” home. The children wrote letters, postcards, stories and other information to, from and on behalf of the visitors, depending on the time of year and theme we were working on. It was a lot of fun and children looked forward to and loved it when their turn came around. I must write about these some time.
          “Move” does look like a cute little book. Thanks for sharing. I love our discussions about reading with young children. I never tire of them. 🙂

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          1. julespaige

            We learn from each other. That is a continual joy! Grandson stopped over when Daddy came to pick up Little Miss yesterday and it was a joy to have him read “In the Tall, Tall Grass’ to his sister. He only got stumped on a couple of words.

            Mem Fox sounds like a uniquely wonderful person. I’ll have to look her up.

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            1. Norah Post author

              It is a continual joy! I agree. How lovely to hear Grandson read such a wonderful book full of delightful sounds and images. It’s not an easy book for a beginning reader – unless it’s been shared many times before. 🙂
              Mem Fox is wonderful. Here is a link to her website: http://memfox.com/

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  3. roweeee

    Am I going to be in trouble for wanting to fly? Have flight as my super power? Both my daughter and i wish we could fly. I’ll have to tell her that reading is a superpower and I know through my blog that reading enables me to travel and in effect fly without leaving my chair. It is fantastic…and a blessing. Not something which we should ever take for granted xx Rowena

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    1. Norah Post author

      You can definitely say you wish to fly, but only if I can too! We’ve talked about Jonathan Livingston Seagull before. I’d love to fly like he does. If I had to be an animal I’d chose to be a bird and fly above the earth looking down. What a marvelous experience! Am I greedy to want to control time and fly as well? So be it! 🙂

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  4. Sherri

    What a great take on Charli’s prompt this Norah…and I am not surprised one bit. Your blog brings home time and again the power of reading, the power of the gift of reading for every child. And your flash..oh your flash, I LOVE it ❤ I can just see the look on that cyncial journalist's face right now…and the glee and joy and imagination soaring in that child. Glorious 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your enthusiasm, Sherri. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post and the flash. I must be sounding a bit like a cracked record, am I? Can’t help it, sorry. 🙂

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  5. Bec

    A very cute FF. You’re so right though, reading is a superpower. It’s amazing that we can just cast our eyes toward a bunch of squiggly lines, and interpret complex meanings in an instant. I am surprised to learn information on toilet doors is not your favoured genre! And it is disappointing about your eyes tiring. I am pleased you have found such pleasure with audio books!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Much of life must remain a mystery to those unable to interpret the squiggly lines. We who can are the lucky ones. Yes, I do love my audiobooks. I always found it difficult to read while driving! 🙂

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  6. Pingback: What Good is Power? « Carrot Ranch Communications

  7. Charli Mills

    Reading is a super power! I can’t say exactly how I learned to read, but I always had books and often pretended to read, making up my own stories to fill the cryptic pages. I guess that super power came over me like the child in your flash. He certainly showed that journalist! You have many powerful posts!

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    1. Norah Post author

      We who can read are very fortunate, aren’t we? I wonder why so many of us don’t remember learning how to read. We just remember reading. Perhaps that’s the more pleasurable part! 🙂

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  8. Sarah Brentyn

    Agree with everyone here. Easy to take for granted (even as I fight for others or donate to educational causes…I’m reading). I’m aware and helping but, in order to do that, I must be reading how to help. O_o Mind-boggling. Anyway, you are not alone in reading signs (and cereal boxes and anything else in my view). So those are not my genre of choice either. 🙂 Great flash. It is a super power. And we’re all super heroes. 💜

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Sarah. I appreciate your comment; and your joining in the environmental print readers club. It’s hard to resist. I’m a compulsive counter too – particularly of steps. I possibly don’t do it as much now but still sometimes catch myself out.
      I’m very pleased to hear of your support for educational causes. They are my organisations of choice also. We are all superheroes! 🙂

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  9. katespencer17

    Hah… you’re not alone in reading everything everywhere! If there is something on the wall of any waiting room that has words on it, I’ll read it – including the EXIT sign. Great flash – to bring out some of the joys we can get from this super power if we choose to harness it.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much, Kate. Actually it’s interesting that we complain about reading this environmental print, as it is often the very same that children begin to recognise first.
      I like the recognition that you give to the use of the super power of reading as a choice. But even those with the ability, who don’t use it for education or recreation, can still use it for accessing information to assist their daily lives, a skill denied to many.

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  10. stuckinscared

    Oh, I LOVE your flash, Norah. I relate to your love of reading (tho these days I struggle to fit as much reading in as I used to) mainly because it takes me all of my with-it-and-not-needed-elsewhere hours to manage writing/arting which for now are prioritized. I also relate to your failing eyesight…soooo frustrating!

    If I could have any super power it would be (as you already know), Mary-Poppins-Power… aside from being able to do the things I mentioned in my ‘If I Could’ post, if I were Mary-Poppins I’d click my fingers and Do-ALL-the-Things 😉

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your Mary Poppins super power, Kimmie. Wouldn’t it be wonderful!
      Your priorities of writing and arting are good ones. All we do is a juggle of the time we have allotted. It’s one thing I do not like to waste.
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. 🙂

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  11. TanGental

    I don’t recall when I realised I loved reading – it wasn’t early on in life, maybe 10 or 11 and I remember relearning that lesson at about 19. Now I see it repeated in my son, this reiteration of a life long love affair that comes in battalions, not single spies, when it comes. You are so right about the gift of reading. I sometimes think I risk becoming word-obese, so much do crave reading time. I enjoyed the flash and echo the super power.

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s interesting Geoff. I too am unable to recall when I realised I loved reading. I could say that I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read, but of course that would be incorrect because I do remember being taught at school. But certainly from age 7 reading would have been an activity of choice. I love your description of it as a “love affair that comes in battalions, no single spies”. And word-obese! Hell, yeah! Those are some calories I could do with! 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Pauline. I’d like to say that it’s curiosity in me too, but when I read the same information repeatedly and probably still couldn’t impart its message, I’m not so sure! 🙂

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  12. Annecdotist

    Pleased to note that the back of the toilet door isn’t your genre of choice!
    I’ve enjoyed many of your posts on the power of reading which is indeed a tremendous asset in this world (even, dare I say it, with the capacity to make time move faster or slower). And what a super hero of your flash is – and brilliant how you portrayed it from the perspective of the cynical TV journalist. Nothing like a nasty character to pull you into a story, and make the twist of the more uplifting.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Yay! Thank you, Anne. I’m so pleased you “got” my flash and the cynical journalist. I must have done something right this time! 🙂
      Are you talking about the ability of reading to make it seem as if time is moving faster or slower, to travel through time perhaps? It is great for that. If only “real” time would stand still while we’re off on our journeys! Thank you for your lovely comment.

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