Are there any sportsmen and women out there? Do you enjoy a game of football, or a swim in the pool? Maybe the best thing you ever did was to go pony trekking, or join the canoe club, or go down to the local dojo and learn the basics of karate?
OK. Half the time, if the weather's just right and you're feeling good, you can spring into action and amaze the world. The rest of the time it takes a bit more effort, but you still go because you know you enjoy it when you get going.
And you get better at it, don't you? The more hours you put in, the more skills you develop. I'm not saying we are all going to end up as brilliant as David Beckham or Stephen Hendry, but at our own level, we improve. It's a fact of life. If you really want to do something, you have to put the effort in, even if you're a natural to start with. I show my age here, but don't tell me Eric Clapton doesn't practise for hours on his guitar.
Reading is just the same. It's a skill that you learn, like developing your backhand volley. If you aren't used to reading a book, the first time you try to settle down with it you might find your mind wanders or you keep reading the same paragraph over and over again. You have to concentrate hardest at the beginning of a new book too because the scene is just being set and you are meeting all the characters.
If you do find it hard to get going, don't just give up and say it's not the book for you. Give it that extra bit of effort. By the time you're on to chapter three you could be completely involved in the story and have it propped up against the cornflakes packet in the morning while you blindly slurp breakfast and time ticks relentlessly by.
Then the next book you pick up, you'll find it that little bit easier. If you read regularly, you will find it becomes much easier to focus on the story and your attention won't wobble about. Remember how hard it is to get going in lessons at the beginning of the school term because you are out of practice after the holidays. And by the end of term you are zinging along doing your maths homework during break while you simultaneously conduct several different conversations and consume a Mars bar.
Right. You've read this much. You must be pretty good at reading anyway.
[Anonymous], girl, age 11, from United Kingdom, on 14th August 2005.
I'm not sure I agree- reading has never been difficult for me as I love to read. But it does take a while to get into a new book because you're meeting new characters and you have to understand what's going on really well to get the whole picture later in the book. I think if you like something it makes it easier and sometimes my friends say that reading is hard or boring. It depends on the book though, I have never got past the first 30 pages in Lord of the Rings, it just doesn't appeal to me. It's an interesting point though, I think it depends on how much you enjoy something as to whether it's difficult or not (depending on what the thing is!). I do think that the more you do it, the better you will get though, you will just get more used to seeing words on a page and you won't look at a book and think 'help! I can't read that!'
Xelnaga, boy, age 15, from North East, United Kingdom, on 20th July 2005.
Now I really enjoy reading, and I always have, and I escpecially enjoy books many people in my school seem to hate. My favourite books are "anything by Tolkien", "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas, "His dark Materials Trilogy" by phillip pullman, and oldly enoguh "Alexander the Great" by Robin Fox. Now Tolkiens works I started read when I was about 8, and I have read them all now, it takes some getting used to, the sheer detail of each page, but it is well worth it. To begin with I wasn't sure if I would like LotR, yet now I know msot things about all of Tolkiens wirks, so with not as much hard work, but as with persevirance, you can enjoy any book. "The Three Musketeers" is a very good book, yet very complicated in someparts, as you must understand the mind of people at the time to know the significance of each event, yet that book alows indepth detail and adventure with minimal effort a very good book. Now the exceptino to all the fantasy novels I read is "Alexander the Great" now that is a factual book presented in a simple, plain and matter of fact way, yet it is one of the most interesting books I have ever read as it shows the contrast of people today, and people over 2,000 years ago, and even with the simple way of the words, a detailed acount of all the actions of the worlds most successful ever leader of an empire are put into something msot people can enjoy. Reading isnot an aqquired skill, it is more of imagination that skill, if you have a good imagination you can picture what the writer was thinknig when they wrote the book, allwoing you a glimse into the mind of someone else, and also of what they are writing about, with a good imagination and boo kcan come alive and be enjoyed by anyone.
becky, girl, age 10, from oxfordshire, United Kingdom, on 29th April 2005.
hi i love books alan garner is a good writer!