National Reading Month

a stack of books

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

—Dr. Seuss

Pulitzer Prize-winning children’s writer and illustrator Doctor Seuss’s birthday is March 2 and in honor of his birthday, March has come to be known as National Reading Month. Reading has been proved to help you empathize more, have less stress, and improve your memory.

Whenever I tell people that I love to read, I get the same response: “I wish I read more.” Then, they inevitably get overwhelmed as I list the myriad things that I’m reading. I am the kind of reader who has an entire TBR bookshelf—not just a stack—with copious novels, poetry books, educational resources, and memoirs. I always go into bookstores looking for a new fun, easy read because I need a palette cleanser between classic literature, but then I end up walking out of the bookstore with another Faulkner. I’ve been to Prince Edward Island in Canada to see Green Gables, went to Amherst, MA to see Emily Dickinson’s The Homestead, and visited Hemingway’s birthplace in Oak Park, IL.

Because I’m so curious and interested in words, I want to scream whenever anyone says “reading is boring.” How can they find connecting with the very essence of humanity and Earth boring? Instead, I’ve taught myself to calmly say, “Then I don’t think you’re reading the right thing.” You should be reading things you’re passionate about, and odds are someone has written it in a way that connects with you. Because I’m such a literature nerd, I talk about books with my friends and family quite often, and I find it extremely interesting to see how everyone responds to books differently. Some people enjoy succinct language, others enjoy world building, while I enjoy vivid imagery.

Sometimes, I think people get caught up treating reading like a to-do list as if they are studying a high-school syllabus and have to check off every great read and it makes reading graphic novels, audiobooks, or YA novels feel less important. That’s not true. Yes, reading can be a way for you to push your perspective, learn information outside your personal awareness, and connect with others and yourself more personally, but it can be for fun, too. I may read Virginia Woolf for fun, but I also read children’s books to learn about historical figures or to be inspired. Often the fun reading encourages us to be more productive, sleep better, and read more.

Celebrating National Reading Month

What can you do this month to celebrate National Reading Month? You can see if your libraries, local community centers, or schools have a challenge or event for the month, but here are some other tips that have worked for me:

  • Make new habits. Find what reading habits work best for you. This can be making a challenge for how many books, short stories, or poems you want to read, or simply dedicating a certain night or time for reading. I am a binge reader, where I will sit down for hours to read, while I know other people like reading for twenty minutes to wind down before they fall asleep.
  • Quit books you don’t like. If you can’t make it through a book, put it down! Who cares if everyone else likes it—if it’s making your head spin or frustrating you, that will make reading seem like a challenge instead of a delight.
  • Be open! The first time I tried reading T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, I couldn’t make sense of it and put it down, but then a few months later, I picked it up and it was the easiest read. Sometimes, it isn’t the right time to read a book, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off forever.
  • Join a book club. While having deadlines can make things feel like a chore, it can also keep us dedicated to a task. Join a book club or start a book club to keep you accountable. Sometimes, you can dedicate more time to something when there’s a deadline.
  • Ask your friends what they are reading. Even if you don’t have time for a book club, ask your friends what they are reading. Having someone to talk to about the book can help us enjoy the book more and connect with others.
  • Go outside your comfort zone. Try a different genre. If you always read fiction, pick up a nonfiction book. Set aside an afternoon and breeze through a novella. Read some poetry.
  • Download an audiobook. Ask your library about what audiobook apps are available. Paying attention to audiobooks can be hard at first, but when you figure out what kind of audiobooks you like, you can get sucked in while making tasks like sweeping or doing the dishes easier. If you need a starting-off place, I suggest trying a memoir from your favorite celebrity.
  • Just sit down and do it! This may seem obvious, but I’ve always found the hardest part is to just sit down, clear your head of the to-do lists, and let the narrative take over. I think it always takes me about four or five pages to really get situated and focused on reading, and sometimes even that requires having done all the dishes beforehand, so I don’t feel anything tugging at my time.
Reading is for everyone!

CSA Favorites

Everything That  Rises Must Converge, by Flannery O’Conner
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
The Stand, by Stephen King
His Dark Materials (series): The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
Cat’s Eye, by Margaret Atwood
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
Born to Run, by Christopher MacDougall
Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
A Storm of Swords (Book 3 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series), by George R. R. Martin
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
The Way Things Work: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Technology, by C. Van Amerongen

National Reading Month BINGO

To help celebrate National Reading Month, CSA has created a printable BINGO card! We hope this helps nurture your love for reading and encourages you to try something new. Happy reading!