I Am a Reader (again)

We must be readers ourselves; if we are to instill a love of reading.

Pernille Ripp, Passionate Readers

Reading is the passage towards all avenues of our lives; emotional, occupational, social, spiritual, environmental, financial, intellectual, and physical. Without reading we are destined to remain within our own thoughts, beliefs & understanding. Without reading there is no growth as a child, teenager, or adult.

I am currently an above average reader, but it was not always this way …

It started great, I was introduced to books at an early age and have many lovely childhood memories surrounded by them: sitting on the lap of my mother, laying on the floor with my father and his ginormous feather pillow (was it really that big or was I really small), visiting the library gathering them or listening to the librarians weekly read aloud just to name a few. With all of the enriching opportunities within my early childhood I was able to read before I entered Kindergarten.

In elementary school my experiences were expanded with more read alouds, short stories, and discussions. We had authors come visit and talk about the books they wrote and the books that inspired them During these years at home my family continued to provide space and time for my reading life to grow. As an only child, I loved picking up a book to enjoy the relationships that formed between myself and the characters. As an only child growing up on a blueberry farm, I loved picking up a book to avoid being asked to complete extra chores (wink). Even during those times of dodging my family work, I relished in the true escape within the pages that I was reading.

Then came middle school where reading class became the chore that I wanted to escape. The read alouds stopped, the book sharing stopped, the laugher and enjoyment about reading stopped. I hated what my teacher was doing to my favorite thing to do. Read the textbook, complete the workbook, analyze the story, dissect the sentence (Science is the only classroom dissection should take place), take a test, and repeat. At home, I was no longer an only child as my brother came along and the time my mother and father had to encourage my reading practice disappeared. The ability to avoid extra work deceased as our family responsibilities grew. On top of this, my free time was devoured by the mundane non-engaging homework tasks assigned by the dreaded Reading and Writing teachers.

Fortunately, I had close relationships with the librarians at my public library which developed over my early childhood years and they took me under their wing and became my reading fortress. I began volunteering my time reshelving books, completing small projects, and helping out with the summer reading program as there were no storytime, games, and/or activities designated for teens. One year, I actually began my own storytelling time for those in the upper elementary grades and I became the storyteller. The work I did at the public library trickled into the library at school where I became a T.A. and developed a strong bond with the librarian there too.

In high school, homework took over all of my spare time and a part time job replaced most of my volunteer time. Because I wanted to be a teacher, my high school counselors and my family both encouraged me to spend this time in daycares and elementary classrooms. Although I enjoyed these experiences my reading time and reading allies were lost.

As a young adult I read very few unassigned reading materials and when I became a mom all of my reading and reading activities were centered toward my children.

As my children grew older I was able to read more and with a computer at home I read a lot of how to articles as my life as a blogger and columnist writer began. Yet, I would not classify myself as a reader.

That is until my love of reading was re-ignited during my Children’s Literature class at Idaho State University while completing my Bachelors of Arts in K-8 Education with emphasis in English and Social Studies. With the professors passion for reading, her love of sharing books with others blended with the semester reading challenge I became a reader once again!

Today’s post is the first of many reading responses to Pernille Ripp’s Passionate Readers. This summer I will be percolating on every word, reflecting on the pages as I prepare my transition from teaching 6th grade Science & Social Studies to 6th grade Reading.

Are you a reader? When did your reading journey begin? What did it look like? Who were your reading allies? I would love to hear about your reading life in the comments below.

Until next time – a latte of giggles & sparkles,

Images used in this post are from a fond memory of mine practicing solitude at a woman’s retreat. It is one of my adulthood moments where I dove head on toward my love of reading (but it only lasted for a weekend).

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