Me as a reader

I read, boy do I read. When I was studying for my BEd I took a class in children’s literature and one of our assignments was a history of ourselves as readers, starting with what our parents read to us. I couldn’t remember my parents reading to me – so much so that I challenged them with it. They both responded, in unison, ‘what are you talking about? One fish, two fish, red fish, blue, fish!

So apparently they did read to me. The thing was, I began to read independently at a very young age and so perhaps the memories of their reading to me go too far back.

Kevin has created a list, 50 things about him as a reader. I’m not sure if I’ll get to 50 things and, as he wrote, perhaps it is a work in progress, our readerliness. But I like the idea of reflecting on myself as a reader, reading is a big part of who I am.

I became a teacher because I wanted to help as many kids as possible become readers. I was inspired by a PBS show, can’t remember the name right now, about a group of friends in elementary school who would solve mysteries, crimes, problems by reading their way through clues. Really. At the time I was a bartender, having completed a BFA in painting and art history 4 years earlier and so my afternoons were free to both watch PBS and ponder my future. At around the same time I visited a friend who was teaching French in Toronto and spent a week doing an art project with her students. That was it, I was hooked on the classroom, so I went back to school.

Writing this makes me think about my current teaching practice. What I do now has very little to do with reading. There is some reading in the French curriculum in Ontario (Core French) but very little. The focus of the program is oral communication and reading is not evaluated at all until grade 4. I became a French teacher because it was the only way for me to get into the Ontario system with its glut of teachers, but I do miss helping students to work with the written word.

Back to me as a reader…

  • I generally have a few books going at the same time. Sometimes because I have forgotten a book at home or at work and need something to read so I start a new one. Sometimes they are different genres: non-fiction for when I feel cerebral, a good novel for when I need to think in a different way, and a detective book or sci-fi/fantasy for pure entertainment. Right now I’m in the middle of:

    • I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
    • The Passage by Justin Cronin, which I loved at first but am having a hard time finishing and I am not even 1/2 way through. The Globe and Mail article linked to in the title explains a bit of why.
    • Pieces of Me by Charlotte Gingras (translated into English by Susan Ouriou) is going by way too quickly! It’s a short novel, can be read in one sitting, but I am trying to piece it out to make it last. Touted as a kids novel I am finding it easy to relate to as an adult as well.
  • When I was young I read anything and anywhere. I remember reading in the car at night, scrambling to get a few sentences in as we drove by streetlights on the highway.
  • I remember convincing my grandmother, who had promised me a book at the shopping mall, that the boxed set of CS Lewis’ Narnia series was one item. I then proceeded to finish the books in a few days. No, I devoured them.
  • When we first moved to New York (my father was doing a fellowship at Cornell) all I had to read for a while was National Geographic magazines. I was 5 so was probably spending more time ‘reading’ the pictures and maybe some of their captions but to this day they remain amongst my first memories of reading.
  • I was never really into classics like Moby Dick or the like but when I moved to China (Beijing) they were the only English books I could get. It’s a good thing I spent time in China because I’ve since read Moby Dick a few times. What a great novel.

I could keep writing but I need to get myself presentable for work. I’ll be adding to this but for now, what stories do you have about you as a reader?

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