For as long as I can remember reading has been a huge part of my life. Growing up it was always fun for me to read and seemed to come fairly easy to me. As soon as I finished one book, I’d pick up another, then another, then another. Today, when I try to read for fun like I used to I feel guilty because I have so many reading assignments for school to get done. I buy books that interest me all the time regardless of my school induced time restraint and they sit on my shelf by my desk and tempt me. I wish that I could read as often as I did in my childhood.
My earliest memories of reading are of being read to. My parents read to my brother, sister, and me before bed and then I spent hours afterward looking at the books over and over again. My parents had to come turn out the lights and put the books away so that I could go to sleep. Because my parents felt I was ready (and raring to go) they enrolled me in kindergarten a year earlier than most other children.
My enjoyment of books at an early age not only prepared me for school but enabled me to attend early.
In elementary school my favorite part of the day was individual silent reading times and after recess when the teachers read books aloud to the class. In second grade I won the "Bookworm Reading Award" not just for my grade level but for the entire elementary school. Our school had given the students a challenge to read as many books as they could to build a paper bookworm that would cover the walls of the entire school. On construction paper circles the school wrote the title and author of each book read as well as the reader’s name. Each circle was placed in a long line and made up the body of the bookworm. I read the most books and won the contest and I even got a shirt! My parents and teachers were so proud of me and I just thought it was fun to be rewarded for something I loved to do anyway. During late elementary school and early middle school the Goosebumps craze broke out and all of my friends and classmates were engrossed in this scary collection of books. I was not (and still am not) a big fan of reading books that scare me and never got into that series; instead, I enjoyed such fantasy collections as the Enchanted Forest Chronicles written by Patricia C. Wrede and Bruce Coville's Unicorn Chronicles.
My parents were the first to encourage and influence my feelings toward reading. My mother reads regularly and read to me and my siblings constantly when we were children. Out of all of my teachers it is my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Horn, who stands out in my memory of reading the most. She would read aloud to us every day and allowed us to read independently every day. I can also remember her taking us to the library quite often, more so than other teachers did. She took time off for most of the year because she had to have surgery and we were assigned a substitute teacher who didn’t place a high premium on reading. It says something that thought absent for most of my fourth grade year, Mrs. Horn is the teacher who stands out most. I feel it has everything to do with her enthusiasm about reading.
In middle school I always did well in reading especially in the Accelerated Reader Program and I always tended to read more books than necessary. I loved reading nonfiction books like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi and the Alice series by Phillis Reylonds Naylor. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt was also a favorite book of mine that I read over and over. From time to time I read books to my younger sister and brother and even taught my sister how to read before she went to kindergarten!
When I entered high school things began to change for me. I didn't read as much for the same reason I don't read as much now, because of school work and extracurricular activities. Reading, unfortunately, took a back seat to my busy school and social schedule. Books that were mandatory to read in high school rarely appealed to me, probably due to the simple fact that they were required. On occasion, though, I did enjoy books like The Giver by Lois Lowry and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury because they sparked my curiosity about powerful and heavy hypothetical issues. During this time I, every so often, reread some of my favorite books from childhood which reminded me why I enjoyed reading.
Now, in college, I try to read as often as I can. I find that I find the most time to read over school holidays. Recent books that I have read and enjoyed are Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, and Daughter of Troy by Sarah B. Franklin. I love to share books that I enjoy with my friends and family and they share good books that they have found with me. I also love to read books that I know will be or already are out on video. I always read the book first (since they are usually better) and then watch the movie to see how another person has interpreted the novel. Novels have always been and always will be my favorite form of literature. Feeling like you are experiencing another place in another time is one of the things I loved most about fiction as a child and even now.
My experience with reading and literature as a child has shaped how and why I continue to read presently. Reading came easy to me as a child and was easily assessible. Both of these factors enabled me to have the opportunity to enjoy reading as a leisure activity. For my own reading experience I believe that without the experiences and influences of my parents and teachers I may not have fallen in love with reading. When I think about my future career as a teacher I know I have the chance to bring that same love of literature to my students.