By Sarah-Ann Binning

Upon my move to Boston, summer 2009, I wasted no time in getting a library card, because “having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card.”

The block-long building on Copley Square became my home away from home. Never-ending rows of bookshelves and the smell of well-loved and worn book pages soothed my fears of moving to a new and unfamiliar city. Among a city of strangers, the Boston Public Library offered me the comforts I most longed for: friends, adventures.

Growing up, I never had many friends. I went through an awkward transition from elementary school and middle school. From first to fourth grade, I had a best-friend move away each year. I hid myself in books. These fictional characters would never abandon me. Page after page the characters let me into their lives and it built a wonderful love for reading.

It comes as no surprise then (seeing as though this is my last entry for spelling week on ‘ispy’) that reading is another way to improve your spelling. (Editor’s note: I meant to post this on Friday, but I got carried away with a writing test for a job application.)

Reading causes you to focus on words that you might not come across during everyday conversation. This helps you increase your vocabulary. Yet at the same time, while you’re reading these words, you’re seeing them in their correct form/spelling. If you’re consistently seeing the word, you can pick up how to spell the word too.

Part of the challenge is to step outside your normal comfort zone and to expand your basis of reading. Rather than reading Joe Schmoe’s personal blog every day, why not also read a few articles on or Reading meticulously edited and revised publications will help you see/read correct grammar and spelling in action.

That being said, I don’t want you to read something that makes you want to stab your eyes with pencils, either. You need to read something you ENJOY. I promise reading can be (and IS) enjoyable.

We all advance through various stages of literary appreciation at our own pace. Being forced to read something you dislike only slows the process of literary appreciation.

While taking a “Young Adult Literature” course last quarter, my professor had us read Chapter One from a Nilson & Donelson textbook. Nilson and Donelson described the stages of literary appreciation as thus (39):

1. Understand that Pleasure and Profit can come from literature. What N &D illustrate is that small children learn to read “signs.” Take the McDonald’s arch, for example. Children learn to read the sign as a symbol for food and/or happy meal. This association is pleasurable and they profit from enjoying the food.

2. Learning to Read. This is the elementary stage of learning how to sound out words and spell.

3. Losing oneself in a story. Here the reader forgets all else and allows him/herself to be consumed by the story. We lose track of time and get carried away with the adventure. I would say this is my natural state of reading, especially when I’m reading Harry Potter.

4. Finding oneself in a story. Here we begin to shape our values and morals based on what we’re reading and what characteristics we value in the text’s heroes.

5. Venturing beyond themselves. This stage typically involves asking our friends for reading suggestions. We’ve read everything we like and love and now we crave new authors and new story plots.

6/7. Develop Aesthetic and analytical appreciation. For me, this didn’t really occur until college. I never understood that each WORD is chosen for a specific reason in every book. Form has meaning. The author chooses to write the book this way intentionally.

My 2010 new year’s resolution is to read for at least 15 minutes everyday. With the exception of 7 days this year, I’ve kept my resolution. While I’m still a chronic misspeller, I seem to be more aware of what words I struggle with and I’m working on improving.

I also created a book “bucket-list” of 200 classic books I want to read before I die. I figure I should branch out and see what all the fuss is about. These books are famous for a reason, right?

Side Note: Upon researching this topic, I stumbled upon a blog posted June 1, 2009 by glen. “8 ways reading makes you better at life” speaks right to my heart. It helps that the author is cleaver and witty writer too.