As a young reader, I always was left empty and dis-satisfied after reading for academic or pleasure purposes. By no means was I ever an “avid” reader. I could never feel the words “come to life” as many of my elementary school english teachers proclaimed. Growing up, I was alone and segregated in my academic progression. I did not receive the proper help I desperately needed. As we read “The Lonely Good Company of Books” by Richard Rodriguez, readers learn that Rodriguez shares mutual feelings. Richard Rodriguez is a self-motivated Mexican American from San Francisco who shares his experience growing up in the public education system. Even though Richard Rodriguez received high remarks, the educational system did not prepare him to be a good reader. The public education system did not provide him with critical analysis skills nor did it give him the tools to overcome educational growing pains he may encounter.
Young readers are fragile, they are easily influenced in early years of their academic journey. Unfortunately, American education systems are flawed, they fail to impact youth as they should. For many students, this causes an educational growing pain, as students grow into young adults, they try to better themselves and are constantly reconstructing their way of thinking. An educational growing pain is when someone’s mind wants to grow, but are held back by outdated educational systems or lazy teachers. Educational growing pains can develop in early childhood and follow them for the rest of their educational career.
Rodriguez explains he never truly liked to read as the words seemed “lifeless and drab”(173). It wasn’t until Rodriguez was placed into a remedial reading class, where he would meet everyday after school in the school library. During this time Rodriguez would meet with a nun who would then read with him and focus on improving his grammar. Richard explains as the nun read to him the words felt as if they were being “brought to life”(173). He goes on to say it felt like the author was speaking directly to him resulting in a relationship of joy and fellowship, this was a feeling richard never thought he would feel. It was through this divine intervention Rodriguez developed a burning passion for reading.
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Although Rodriguez was hungry to learn at this point, educational growing pains began to develop. Rodriguez reveals he grew up in a low-income household where “reading was always done out of necessity and as quickly as possible”(172). Rodriguez goes on to explain that his mother was not very supportive in his growing passion for reading. His mother would often scold him for writing in his books because of a decrease in value. Rodriguez also began to go in depth about his mother’s discomfort with his new hobby by stating but at home I would hear my mother wondering, “what do you see in your books?” (was reading a hobby like her knitting? Was so much reading even healthy for a boy? Was it a sign of “brains”? Or was it just a convenient excuse for not helping around the house on saturday mornings) Always, “what do you see?”(174).
Rodriguez’s educational growing pains was not limited only to his home. He criticizes the educational system for offering him very little help in becoming a strong academic reader. As Rodriguez tells his story, he goes on to tell readers about the struggles he faced as a young minority in a public school. He goes into detail explaining he would read college level books and received high remarks from his teachers but he had never understood the content, he often spent his free time reading because it brought him a certain level of peace knowing he was alone with the author of the book. Rodriguez explains he had already read hundreds of books before her had even started highschool, he goes on to say he had received high compliments for this but felt as if he had not achieved much for the fact that although he had read these books he had not understood them the way the author intended. For this reason the reader come to the conclusion that Rodriguez had an educational growing pain in his early childhood, this effected the way he was able to critically analyze the text he was reading. This can be blamed on many moving factors but at the end of the day it all boils down to the public educational system, teachers are underpaid and overworked, parents are not putting in the right amount of effort at home leaving today’s youth empty handed and set at a disadvantage.
When Rodriguez was in highschool he talked about his experience in reading advanced books by saying “books brought me academic success as I hoped that they would. But I was not a good reader”(175). Rodriguez explains that he had a list of books he had wanted to read and while he was making his way down the list he came across “Plato’s Republic”. In this he proves the school system let him down by saying “ i needed to keep looking at the book jacket comments to remind myself of what the text was about”(175). Although Rodriguez read the text in full, he didn’t understand the words he read. Rodriguez reveals this is how he felt for many of the books he had read, he goes on to say he would often have a dictionary nearby to look up words he not comprehend.
Although the public education system did not provide Rodriguez with critical analysis skills to understand the content he was reading, while fighting through his educational growing pains, Rodriguez’s determination yielded himself large amounts of publicity. Rodriguez pursued a successful career in reading and writing that allowed him to achieve his dreams. The reader can relate Rodriguez’s story to today’s world and use his devotion as motivation for today.