Beyond the Words on a Page
- July 22, 2021
- Posted by: Kathleen Shepherd
- Category: News
Perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of reading is its ability to provide a completely unique experience for each individual. Just as each person who picks up a book has a different perspective, the experience that a book provides for each reader is unlike that of anyone else. When we allow ourselves to dive into a book, we bring our own background, adversities, and experiences. The narrative becomes enriched with our own history, culture, and unique life story.
Personally, I have always found books powerful in the way that they allow us, as the readers, to create our own meaning. When we read in between the lines and interpret the story through the lens that has been informed by our personal experiences, there is endless possibility for imagination and adventure, inspiration and action. As Samuel Johnson once said, “A writer only begins a book— a reader finishes it”.
Ironically enough, these differences that come about when bringing meaning to a story can also bond us in unknown and unimaginable ways. As different as we may be, we are united in the fact that we are all making meaning of something powerful. Although the meaning we bring to a book may be different than that of another reader, in a way, we are bonded through these differences. Despite the fact that the meaning we make may be different than someone else’s, there is unity in the fact that all readers are making meaning that is personal- informed by their unique life story. This, in itself, is in my opinion, one of the most uniting forces that exists. Being able to recognize— and celebrate— that each person brings unique meaning to a story can create a strong bond that is built upon a foundation of differences.
Perhaps this uniting force can be applied to more than just books. In a world that often seems divided and angry, maybe we need to take a step back and recognize that just as each reader brings their own meaning to a book, each person brings their own meaning to life’s experiences. If we can unite in accepting the fact that each person brings a unique meaning and interpretation to everyday life, maybe we can learn to live a little more empathetically. In a world that often seems so obsessed with fitting in or being the same, what message is more powerful than celebrating the unique meaning that we each bring to every new day? I think this is a powerful lesson that reading has to offer— especially for middle school and high school students. When the world is shouting at you to fit in, books can remind you of the beauty that lies within your unique life story, perspectives, and experiences. At the end of the day, the unique meaning that we bring to a book is just one example of how we can bring our own interpretation and impact to the world around us. The world is a place for you to make your own meaning— books are just the beginning.
Celebrating the beauty that lies in the different meaning that each reader brings to a book is one of the things that we hope to highlight within our Book Summer community. We’re excited to be able to share this passion with our readers, and we absolutely love learning about the unique meaning that they bring to each book that they explore. We look forward to growing as a community as we celebrate the bond that lies within making our own unique meaning of each new book, experience, and everyday encounter.