在和孩子们一起阅读的过程中，我对阅读英语文学有了新的认识。从此，我沉浸于各种主题的书籍、杂志和报纸之中，如育儿、心理、教育、历史、参考书目、小说、园艺、投资等。当孩子们步入青春期时, 为了更好地理解他们的行为，我认真阅读了艾米·艾利斯纳特和弗朗西丝·詹森的《青少年的大脑》 。凭着拥有不同领域的综合知识，我向成千上万的中国家长诠释了这本书。我在网上共享的阅读笔记受到了广泛的好评，并在世界范围内被华人媒体多次转发和转载。我再一次成了朋友们的“字典”。
My Journey of Reading
By Chun Lei
What reading does to a person is like what water and sunshine does to a tree. It can transform inorganic materials into a living being, though it is a slow process.
In the 70’s in China, I found that reading was a great challenge. The only proper reading materials at school were textbooks. I was not particularly good at memorizing them. In fact, as a second grader, I once received a zero on a test that required me to write a famous paragraph word-by-word from memory; instead, I could only interpret the words into my own writing.
Though I was unable to memorize texts, I couldn’t stay away from the books that adults deemed a waste of time. I was drawn to the variety of non-textbooks in libraries and bookstores. Without realizing it, I slowly gained a wealth of knowledge in many different fields. I had never had a photographic memory, and had not thought I was a good reader and hated memorizing texts throughout college in China and graduate schools in the USA. But, my schoolmates gave me the nickname “dictionary”.
At the very beginning of reading English materials, I just read whatever interested me, driven by my curiosity and thirst for knowledge. When my son was born, I started reading parenting books and magazines, learning that Americans begin reading to their children shortly after birth. A number of questions immediately came to my mind. How can a few-month-old baby remember anything in a book? Is it just for the habit of reading? Why is reading considered important at such an early age? I was eager to figure it out with my own children.
Volunteering in my kid’s class helped me to better understand the benefits of reading. Every morning a parent would bring a book chosen by his/her child and read it to the whole class for 20 minutes. I was worried at first: how could I read to over 20 children with my Chinese accent? Upon hearing my concerns, the teacher simply smiled and said they would enjoy it. Eventually, I realized that the power of a language is embedded in the sounds, and hearing English in a foreign accent actually helps kids develop awareness of and spark interest in different cultures. In addition, kids are able to read before they know the rules of grammar and how to spell words, and this capability starts when they are babies.
My son’s delay in reading at age 5 led me to discover different ways of reading. At first, he had a hard time associating sounds and letters, and his interest in how things work, instead of made-up stories, hindered him in reading fiction. We went to reading classes to learn phonetic awareness and how to act out the characters of the books. Amazingly, through reading books, he learned vocabulary without intentionally memorizing the spelling of each word. It was revolutionary for me to discover that children had this innate ability to learn language, even without direct teaching.
I, too, started reading all of my kids’ books and was surprised with my own progress. I also learned that reading at one’s own level would build up confidence and improve reading skills. There is more than one way of reading: to conquer a classical book like Jane Eyre, watch a movie, listen to audio books, and read picture books with your children, all of which are effective in gaining knowledge!
In reading with my children, I gained a newfound appreciation for reading English literature. From there, I dived into books, magazines, and newspapers in various topics, including parenting, psychology, education, history, bibliography, fiction, gardening, investing, etc. As my children became teenagers, I was motivated to read The Teenage Brain by Amy Ellis Nutt and Frances E. Jensen. With my comprehensive knowledge in different areas, I was able to explain the book in a meaningful way to a lot of Chinese parents. The reading notes I shared online were well received. Once again, I became a “dictionary” to my friends.
Though I once received a “zero” in second grade for using interpretation instead of memorization, my recent experiences show that interpretation of works is just as important, if not more, as simple memorization. For some, reading may be about memorization, while for others it is about interpretation. What matters most is up to what form of reading fits one best. Without a doubt, reading has enriched my life.
Dai Xin说：[握手][握手] 我也是从小爱看非教科书的“闲书”。近几年读了Charlotte Mason的教育理念，才知道很多我爱读的闲书原来是living books。这些活的书中的活的理念、想法、主意，读书人吃下后，可以被消化吸收，成为这个个体的知识、思想和灵魂的有机的组成部分。
雷春读书笔记：《The Dolphin Way》