I have been working at a tutoring center for about six months, and I’m constantly amazed at how our brains work. How do we ever learn to speak? And to read? And why is it so easy for some people and a challenge for others? Somehow we learn that vowels make long sounds and short sounds. When put in different combinations with consonants, there are different patterns and rules for pronouncing words. Did I really understand that if an “e” is at the end of a four letter word with the CVCV pattern, than the first vowel becomes a long vowel? I barely understand it now, so how did I know that when I was five years old?! It’s pretty extraordinary what we’re capable of learning. I decided to sit down and take a look at my own reading development.
Looking back, I know that my parents were instrumental in my education. We had books at our house and I know that my mom read to me on our tan-colored, corduroy sofa (she even did voices). I have a Raggedy Ann & Andy book with the corner chewed off because this was apparently my favorite book as a toddler! We had a copy of the classic Pat the Bunny, board books, and picture books. I also had plenty of relatives who were book lovers, so I was frequently gifted books and encouraged to read. In kindergarten, I recall taking home the plastic bags with handles that held books inside them. By the time I was in first grade, I knew that I was a good reader. I remember being in the high-level reading group in school—I’m sure the teacher played this off as randomly selected groups, but we knew we were the strongest readers in the class.
My next reading memory comes a few years later. In fourth grade, our class did a Laura Ingalls Wilder unit. The class was going to read the first book in the Little House on the Prairie series, Little House in the Big Woods, but I had already read the entire nine-book collection of novels. This meant I went on to read The Rocky Ridge Years books, which continue to follow Laura, Almanzo, and their daughter Rose. Christmas and birthday gifts often consisted of gift cards to bookstores. Visiting Barnes & Noble was a special treat for me, and my parents always let me pick out a book or two when we were in a town with a B&N. We also frequently utilized our local library, where I checked out lots of Nancy Drew books. I still have my first library card where my mom wrote my name on the back since I was so little.
After thinking about my reading history a bit more, I decided to create a list of books that were important in my life and growth as a reader from the time I was in elementary school all the way up through college. I tried my best to select the ages I read certain books, although my memories of reading in elementary school are a bit hazy.
Now I pose the question to you: How did you learn to read? What books, authors, and series were instrumental in your growth as a person and reader? Can you relate to the list of books I compiled?