Literacy Journey Journal: Early Reading Life

Entry #1 Prompts:  What Is My Reading Identity?  Your Early Reading Life

  • What is your earliest memory of reading?
  • How was reading a part of your childhood?
  • What are three books that stand out to you from your childhood reading life and why?
  • Did you have any reading role models in your childhood?
  • What were pleasurable experiences you had with reading in school?
  • What are experiences that you did not like with reading in school?
  • How have your earliest reading experiences shaped how you teach/promote reading now?

At some point late this spring, I stumbled across a course at Longwood about the Literacy Journey and creating a culture of literacy and reading in school. It sounded intriguing, but I waffled on signing up. It would be nice to whittle down summer commitments and obligations, yet here I am. And it is ok. In fact, it’s really good.

The course is one way to get my reading habits back on track. I’m also participating in the #bookadaychallenge, which I’m enjoying more than I thought I would. I was worried posting something every day would be a burden, but it’s actually been nice to take a few minutes out to read a picture book or to think on a chapter book I’m working through.

Journaling is a required part of the Literacy Journey course. Prompt #1 is posted above. And here goes my draft.

Several of these prompts seem to mesh together. Can I talk about my earliest memory of reading without talking about how reading was a part of my childhood? Can I talk about my early reading memories without talking about my reading role models? Can I talk about my earliest memory of reading, how reading was a part of my childhood, and my reading role models without discussing my reading experiences in school?

I don’t remember much about my maternal grandmother and great aunt. They both exist as faint memories, almost as one person in thick black heels with a patent leather purse that smelled like Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. But I do have a hazy flash of a memory of sitting in the laps of one of these women reading a story. It is my earliest reading memory.

My sister and I did not want for books. The basement of our childhood home houses the many picture books we had as a child. Some of those found their way upstairs and into the hands of my niece and nephew. Both of my parents were readers, and while I don’t remember my mother reading to me–thought I’m sure she did–I do remember lying on the floor of my bedroom as she told us Little Lulu stories that were either totally made up or straight out of the comic strip.

I don’t remember learning to read. I don’t remember being told that I had to read at least 20 minutes a day or keep a reading log. I just read. It was just something that I did as a child and that I continue to do today, and when my reading falls off for one reason or another, it is something that I miss.

I struggle to remember reading experiences in elementary school. There are only two that really stick with me: my first grade teacher, Mrs. Jones, reading Eloise (she did the BEST voices, and Eloise remains one of my all-time favorite books to this day) and making an effort to read all of the Paddington Bear books in the school library. That’s it. Those are the only two early reading memories from school. Oh, and racing through the SRA reading cards so that I could win a prize for being the first student to finish. It is here that I confess for the first time ever that I think I may have cheated in order to win a… paperweight… something every elementary school student needs!

Now that I really think about it, I find it interesting odd that I don’t early reading memories tied to school. The school librarian was a little scary. There was a pet rock in the library. Paddington Bear, for one reason or another, was the series to read. At least for my sister, cousin, and me. I’m sure the librarian read to us. I’m sure every teacher I had in elementary school read to the class. The only teacher I remember reading aloud is Mrs. Jones; the only book I remember is Eloise.

I feel like i should have more pleasurable school-based reading memories. I certainly hope that when my students are 45-years-old, they’ll recall a few joyous reading experiences. My reading role models were definitely my parents. My positive reading memories were made at home through plentiful access to books, self-selecting the books I wanted to read, and talking about books with my sister.  

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