For five years now, I have been working as an English teacher for children from first grade to seventh grade. I have always loved my job and all that comes with it, but I do have to say that one of my favorite things about my profession is when I get to discuss something I know best - books.
When I start talking about a certain book they're reading or a book they've read, often times, I will see them overcome with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and an eagerness to learn. Their enthusiasm grows even more when they realize that I have actually read those books myself.
One of my favorite things we do as a class is when we all get to line up outside the corridor and head to the school library. Though it is a small space tucked in the corner of our campus, it's full of shelves and shelves of books. They perk up, smile, and even squeal when we take them to the room, and it's truly a lovely sight to see. When I do see them this way, it always brings me into thinking a lot about the books I myself have read when I was younger and how they have, unknowingly, influenced me in many ways in my life.
There were books like Ferdinand the Bull that taught me that just because somebody or something looks scary or intimidating, doesn't mean they actually are. There were those books like D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths that started my obsession with Greek mythology.
Thinking about this is also bringing me back to the books that got me into reading for the sheer fun of it. There were those Nancy Drew editions with the yellow hardback covers that my sister used to read and that I tried so hard to get into. There were the countless The Baby Sitter's Club books I've asked my parents to get for me because I was extremely into each of those characters, and I just really wanted to babysit for a living! Of course, I can't forget to mention the Animorphs series that was the origin for the appreciation I have for red-tailed hawks today.
I do think that there is always that one book that influences readers the most - the one that basically molded you into becoming an avid reader in the first place. For me, those books would be the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I first picked this up when I was 11 years old. I was so immersed in that world and in all those characters. I not only related to them, but I felt invincible while getting to know them and their world. I thought that nothing in this physical world could ever stop me from becoming who I really want to be. If a boy stuck underneath the stairs with his horrible relatives could be a boy wizard, I knew I could accomplish anything if I wanted it.
I also think there are moments that can shape people. I for one remember a significant moment after finishing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when my grandparents took me and all my cousins to the bookstore. My grandmother told us to get whatever book we wanted. Now this was incredibly exciting for us because we weren't allowed to get books unless we 'deserved' them. Still, my grandparents let us roam freely, to peruse through those shelves, to pick anything we wanted, and to read whatever we wanted. In that moment as a little girl, I remember I imagined and pictured myself as a grown-up, hoping that someday, I would also write a book that would mean something to somebody - at least one person. Perhaps it's that time that started my dream of becoming an educator and a writer.
All in all, I think it truly is interesting how reading can mean something different to everyone. To many avid readers and literature lovers, it may have started with a book you were read to as a child, or a book you picked up when you were twelve. The bottom line is, it all started somewhere. As an educator today for young children, I would like to think that perhaps one of these books that my students pick up during one of our trips to the library would be one of those books that could start it all for them.
Tell me what books shaped you into the reader you are today.