Monday, August 31, 2009

Jason Soucinek: Reader Interview

Current position/title: Director, iPULSE, a division of Life Services, and Associate Staff with CPYU

Have you always been a reader? If not, how did you become one?

Reading was one of those things that I dreaded when I was in school, even college. In fact, I took great delight in having passed all my English literature classes (and many others) without ever having read a single classic. It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I learned how much I LOVED to read. Now I can’t get my hands on enough books. It seems like I am always reading. Especially the classics! Funny how you avoid something most of your life then you spend the rest of it trying to make up for lost time!

What are your reading habits and practices?

A couple of things worth mentioning here:

As for habits, typically I love to read in the morning and in the evening. Whenever I travel I try my best to use public transportation. There is nothing like getting in a chapter or two while I wait to go from one point A to point B.

As for practices, I read on a variety of topics from several different perspectives. I feel this allows for me to understand issues in a much broader sense. I think it is silly when you don’t challenge yourself to see some of the big things we read about and not understand the other side.

Find one or two authors you love and read everything they ever wrote! For me that is John Steinbeck and C.S. Lewis.

Name 3 books that have been very influential in your life and one sentence that explains why.

Wow! That is like asking what my favorite band is or what movie I like the most but I will try my best. I am sure as soon as I send this off to you I will think of several others that could replace these three.

The Pearl, by John Steinbeck. This was the first book after I graduated from college that got me hooked on reading. Since then I have made Steinbeck a stable in my yearly reading pattern.

The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard. This book was thick! Not just in the physical sense but in the spiritual and mental sense. This was the first book that had me reading scripture right alongside the book I was reading. I remember spending days doing nothing but studying scripture and reading this book. Absolutely fell in love with the Lord all over again!

Why We Can’t Wait, by Martin Luther King Jr. There is probably no other person in modern history that has had as much influence on my life as this man. This is the book that started that adoration.

If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be and what questions would you ask him or her?

C.S. Lewis, where did you find time to write, teach and respond to all those letters while also having a social life?

According to a recent study by the National Endowment of the Arts, very few young people are reading. Do you have any ideas on how to get young people to read?

I think the one thing that this generation is missing is the use of their imagination. This might be hard to accept but I recently went to the museum with a group of students. When they were asked to look at the art on the walls they couldn’t place themselves in the picture. They had a hard time playing in the fields or thinking about what might be beyond the hills or who might live in the house that was painted. I believe that this is a direct result of a generation of students that are not reading or who have never been read to as a child. Reading unlocks our imagination. I learned this late in life but I am taking full advantage of it now!

One way for us to curb this trend is to use books in our teaching. Whenever I speak I love to use books that we all remember from our childhood like Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree or The Velveteen Rabbit. What I’ve realized, however, is not everyone in my audience have read these books. But something happens when I read them aloud…people’s heads perk up and they are taken into the story. Maybe they’ve never read the story but it gets them excited about reading. I’ve had more than a few teenagers that will come up after I’ve spoken and ask about the book I just read out loud. My hope is that this starts a rhythm or practice that will start them on a journey of reading. Gosh, to think if someone had done that when I was younger…all the books I could have already read!

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