Being a Reader
This fall I am enrolled in English and American Novels, a course required for my English endorsement. In May everyone got the reading list consisting of seven novels:
- Pride and Prejudice
- Great Expectations
- O! Pioneers
- The Scarlet Letter
- Howard’s End
- The Portrait of a Lady
- David Copperfield
Along with these books, I’ve read oodles of books this summer: professional development, young adult literature, classics, and adult fiction. Wherever I go, I have a book on hand.
While I’ve been taking summer courses and reading through the novels list, I’ve also been working 20-30 hours at the bank. I love talking to my co-workers about what I’ve been learning and recently my inner teacher has surfaced. Instead of just taking a book to work and reading it in the break room during my lunch hour, I’ve been using every opportunity to tell my co-workers about the books I’ve been reading.
Melissa, who also serves as a para at a local school during the academic year, loves Jane Austen. I energetically told her about my copy of Pride and Prejudice, a graphic novel adaptation. Having never seen a graphic novel before, I filled her in on all the details. Today I brought my copy and let her borrow it – I was so excited and I think she was, too. I cannot wait to hear what she thinks of the graphic novel adaptation on her favorite author. Besides religiously picking her brain about different topics in education, we’ve also discussed how to help her son, a reluctant reader, find joy in reading. Somehow, I hope her experience with my graphic novel will help her son get excited about reading.
I’ve also talked to Mandy about the classic novels I’ve been reading this semester. Mandy shared with me that her current reading list, consisting of modern adult fiction, has lately seemed lackluster. I began title talking the my favorite classic novels I’ve read this summer and today, when she arrived at work, she held Willa Cather’s O! Pioneers in hand. She had vigor in her eyes when she told me she was already to chapter five and in love with the book! She also rented The Scarlet Letter and told me she couldn’t wait to begin that book, too (although I advised her to skip the first chapter, The Custom House).
I consider both Melissa and Mandy readers but lately they have been readers in a slump. So when Melissa flipped through the graphic novel and when Mandy held up O! Pioneers, I saw the energy return to their eyes. In these two moments, I felt like a proud mama. I had helped my friends return to an unbeatable gift: the gift of literacy. While reading slumps happen, good friends help slumped readers get out of their rut.
I don’t feel like an amazing book matchmaker and I don’t even feel like a type of super librarian. I just feel like a reader. Readers share with other readers what they have read and what books they recommend. In all reality, all I did was have conversations with fellow readers. All that mattered was that books were placed in willing hands.
It’s funny, though, because now I personally feel more energized than ever simply because my friends got excited about reading. If teaching reading is anything like these experiences, I can hardly wait.