Good afternoon, Arrowheads! Bookworms come about in a number of ways. Some kids are reading as toddlers, while some initially struggle with reading and come to embrace it later in life. My testimony is a mix of both.
The Beginning and Kindergarten
My momma read a lot of children’s books to me until I learned to read for myself in Kindergarten. Some of the books included: Rosie’s Two Left Feet, The Poky Little Puppy, Little Raccoon’s Nighttime Adventure, and most of the Golden books.
Back then, the only bookshelf we had in the house was about three feet tall with three shelves, and plugged full of kids’ books. I remember building many a book castle out of those books as well as enjoying listening to them being read!
Then the fateful day came when I first read a book by myself. My momma and I were sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office, and I was sounding out words to Picky Nicky by Cathy East Dubowski. Even though I may have been reciting the words from memory (we read that book a lot; I’m a picky eater like the main character), this memory has always stood out to me as the first time I felt like I was reading on my own, and I’ll never forget it!
Junie B. Jones. The Babysitter’s Club. The Babysitter’s Little Sisters. Nancy Drew. 10 Kids, No Pets. Earth to Matthew. These are a few of the stand-out titles I remember adoring from Kindergarten to 4th grade. However, this is where my love for reading began to waver. The elementary school I went to had a competition-oriented reading program in place. Winning the competition resulted in one class from each grade earning a prize for receiving the most “points” at the end of the year. Points varied per the book’s reading level, and were rewarded by how well students scored on reading comprehension quizzes.
This program quickly murdered my love for reading during 4th grade. While my classmates were required to get anywhere from 1-2 points per week, I was told I had to get 4. If I didn’t reach my points goal per week, I was forced to stay in and read during recess to earn my points before I could go outside. I remember sitting in class reading many a day wondering why my love for reading was being abused.
In 5th grade, my reading waned even more. This teacher wasn’t as strict about earning points, so I chose not to read as much. She was much more encouraging about reading for fun though, and on the last day of school she let us have free reading time and pick a book from her classroom shelf. I started The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and have been meaning to get back to it ever since. At the time of writing this post, I’m currently reading it. 🙂
End of the Six-Year Hiatus
In middle school, the teachers pretty much didn’t ask us to do the competition anymore, so I don’t remember reading much of anything besides what we were assigned in Language Arts.
9th grade’s English class was World Literature, if I remember correctly. This class didn’t help much either. My teacher was nice, but a tough grader. None of the books we read in class that year kept my interest, minus Of Mice and Men. I remember hating The Odyssey with a passion.
10th grade may have been when we read Lord of the Flies. This was my first experience reading dystopian, and I liked that element. But 11th grade… this is when I first encountered the lovely and heartwarming To Kill a Mockingbird. This was the first book in years that not only kept my interest, but made me want to read more. The characters, the plot, the setting, and the message all reminded me of why I first fell in love with reading.
The following Christmas I was ready to give reading for fun another start, so I asked for a Nicholas Sparks book (The Best of Me). I ended up enjoying it as well, and the rest of Sparks’s novels soon after. Then, referred by my cousin-in-law/fellow bookworm, Kristen, I read all of Sarah Dessen’s books. Classics permeated this period too, such as Ethan Frome, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Wuthering Heights.
Reading Christian fiction didn’t really start until I began a more serious relationship with the Lord and started reading the Bible back in 2015. I read through it once that year and eventually read through it a second time. During that time I also read Billy Graham’s Unto the Hills devotional, and a couple Christian reads, including the first indie book I’ve ever read, Becoming Nikki by Ashley Elliott. After reading her book and discovering she had published it at such a young age, I set out to do the same with Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl. I had a hard time finding other indie Christian fiction like Elliott’s until I started adding friends on Goodreads… and the rest is history!
Have you always loved reading, or have you gone through some rough patches too?