It was either Grade 5 or Grade 6 when the teacher decided to have a reading contest in our classroom. Now I knew that this would fall flat amongst the rest of the boys because if it wasn’t for library class they would never read on their own. My reaction might be interesting – some ‘fun’ competition geared at my strength. The contest worked as intended amongst the girls and got some of them reading more.
That first library class was interesting. I scoured the library for the biggest tome of a book I could find. That turned out to be ‘The Mysterious Island’ by Jules Verne. Later on, sitting down reading it at a table, I thought about my male peers again. Even with this tome, I bet I would easily beat them in amount read. So I turned the book upside down and began reading that way.
The librarian saw me like that and chewed me out. She was certain I had just done something evil and put the book that way by mistake. It had been slow going but I was able to read that way. The hard part was Verne’s dense description that he puts at the start of each book until the story gets going and he forgets to put it in.
So I was punished for slowing myself down. I decided to only report the books that I took out of the library and none of the many books I would borrow from my older brother and sister (also heavy readers).
My instincts were correct. With only a fraction of my reading being reported, I beat all the other males in my class.
Officially a number of the girls beat me. Perhaps they won a ribbon for such achievement. Perhaps some of them even got turned onto reading by this.
But I know I won that contest. Some of those girls may protest this. But ask my sister who was also in my grade if I won. I did.
And for all of you who lament the small amount of boy readers? Boy society should be changed somehow to make reading a positive. It was already severely scarred when I was a kid – imagine how it is now. Perhaps comic book reading is up with Hollywood’s recent fetish of the comic book world. And although some of you have decried this, it might help make boy readers.