I consider myself to be a capital R “Reader”. I was read to as a child, taught to read, and always had plenty of reading material available to me. Today I reflect on how I became a Reader. It turns out there were 5 easy steps!
Step 1: Choosing to Read
Growing up my parents always encouraged me to read. One rule in our house had to do with reading and bedtime. I had a bedtime and a go to sleep time. When the time arrived, I think 8:30, I was sent off to bed. I could either read in my room for 30 minutes or go directly to bed. My bedroom had an odd cut-out/half-closet thing. I would pile pillows, blankets, and books into the reading nook and choose to read for 30 minutes before bed. I made the simple choice of reading before bed, thus choosing to become a reader.
Step 2: Writing in books!??!
My high school teachers helped me take the next step as a reader. My Latin teacher, Magistra, gave us copies of Edith Hamiliton’s Mythology. There was one caveat. We had to highlight, underline, and write inside the book. I had never considered writing inside a book before this. My “Edith”, as we called it, has come to my aid many times throughout my life, helping to answer a mythology, literature, or history question. I started to become a Reader when I learned that writing in books was a good thing.
Step 3: Using a novel to teach history
The next giant leap towards becoming a Reader occurred my sophomore year of college. I was taking a Roman History course at Fort Lewis College. One of our required books was The Course of Honor. This novel, written by Lindsey Davis, fictionalizes the story of the Emperor Vespasian and his life-long love of the freedwoman Caenis. Not only is it now one of my favorite novels, but I had never considered that a work of historical fiction could be used to teach about a culture or society. I learned through The Course of Honor that a Reader uses fiction to serve as a gateway to learning in other disciplines.
Step 4: Reading to nieces and nephews
The fourth step toward becoming a Reader has been a gift to me from my nieces and nephews. Reading books with them has always been something fun to do with Aunt Jen. One particular time that stands out in my mind is when our niece (and the rest of the family) visited one Christmas. I pulled out our children’s books to read. Green Eggs and Ham was an instant hit. We read that book here and there, we read that book everywhere. She could recite the rhymes of Dr. Seuss and loved looking at the illustrations. After the whole family left, I was left to pick up Green Eggs and Ham and marvel at the gift that sharing reading was for me as a Reader.
Step 5: Igniting an Interest
The most recent step towards becoming a Reader has happened in my professional life. I was given this gift from a student. I had a student who needed additional practice with reading. We tried novels in many genres, but they were all met with reluctance. One day, we chose to begin Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief. The student and I read aloud the tale of Percy. I was able to answer his mythology questions and he became more curious. I brought in my Edith to share with him and he was amazed that you can write in books. We discussed the parts of plot, literary elements, mythology, history, and reading. The greatest gift that this student could give me was the excitement he had when he asked if I had read the next chapter.
I am not sure which steps were the ones that turned me from reader to Reader. It probably is a combination of all of the steps. I consider myself a Reader. And I couldn’t be happier!