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I came across a question the other day that made me stop and think. It was just five words and a question mark, but it opened up a whole world of ideas.

But what is actually reading? The answer may seem simple and straight forward, reading is the skill of seeing, understanding and interpreting written words. But is that really all it is?

The more I thought about it the more I realised that reading is so much more and doesn’t actually need the written word at all. We don’t just read words, we read people and their actions, situations, atmospheres, pictures and sometimes even clouds.

So while I enjoy the written word as a form of communication, a tool to learn and understand and as pathways into my imagination with it’s endless stream of stories I think I may possibly read a lot more unwritten things then I am aware of.

I read the the weather before I get dressed, I read my students and the atmosphere in the class room, I read strangers behaviours around me, I read between the lines of what my friends tell me, I read their feelings and even read my own moods, wants and needs.

Of course I get it wrong sometimes, just like little spelling mistakes in a word can change it’s whole meaning, so can little signs, feeling and ideas change how you view what is right i font of you. But most of the time, like that sentence in a book you misunderstood, you don’t notice your error till further down in the book or situation.

However no matter how often I misread something the lure of reading always pulls me back in, no matter if it’s books or the world around me. Like C.S. Lewis once said:

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me