Who am I as reader? That is a loaded question.
I am so many different types of reader. I am a professional reader. I am a social reader. I am a causal reader.
Professional reader: My profession requires me to read a lot. I read education books to enhance my understanding of the learning process, best educational practices, and to understand how the young adult mind operates. This summer I read Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher. Gallagher writes a lot about modeling writing for students and having students maintain a writer’s notebook in which they can practice, reflect, and file their writing. I was able to connect with his teaching philosophies because they closely resemble my own. A blog is really just a digital version of a writer’s notebook. Blogs are my other source of educational reading. I have many colleagues, both near and far, that blog about their teaching experiences. I read about their challenges, their successes, their failures and their triumphs in order to better my own teaching practices.
I also read a lot of students’ work. Seems obvious as an English teacher, but I thought it worth mentioning. My favorite part of this type of reading is witnessing how each student develops their writing skills over the school year. I realize that might be hard to believe. I think most students never really think about the skills they develop during the school year, but it happens. I have seen it and it is amazing.
I also read a lot of novels that I could potentially use in my classrooms. This summer I read A Raisin in the Sun and some selections from The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I will be using both of these in my English 11 classroom. There are so many wonderful, fascinating, creative books in the world that I would love to teach different books every school year. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t permit that. But a teacher can dream, can’t she?
Social reader: I love young adult literature. High school is a time when you discover who you are and who you want to be. Nothing embodies those ups and downs better than young adult literature. I have to admit I am a fan of series. I like to follow characters through a series of events and conflicts. I like to be a witness to their change and their growth. A lot of the books I choose to read are because they are part of a series. I also read a lot of student recommended books. Young adults are really the best critics of young adult literature. Since I work with young adults every day, I like to use this to my advantage when it comes to selecting reading materials.
My favorite genre is fantasy. Almost to a fault. I have the ability to shut the rest of the world out when reading a good piece of fantasy. When I say good, I mean a story that you can constantly visualize in your mind, like a movie. A story that has characters that you can relate to; you want to be friends with; you want to be. A story that can capture your inner feelings, even those you didn’t think you had. The problem, like I mentioned, is that when this type of story comes around, the rest of the world doesn’t exist to me. I have to be really strict with myself and not allow myself to read the day away. To do my school work, clean the house, eat.
My all-time favorite fantasy series are Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and HIS Dark Materials. I believe the authors of these series present memorable characters that all readers can relate to in some shape and form. They also create conflicts that extend beyond adolescence and help young adults look past the trivial details of their surrounding environment, and begin to think about greater social issues. Although, these issues are portrayed in fantasy environments in the books, they are present within our own society. Sometimes we need things displayed in some other realm or portal in order for us to recognize them in our own world.
I am currently reading the fourth installment of The Moral Instruments series. It is not my favorite fantasy series, but I must find it engaging since I am on the fourth book. The two things that bother me the most are the narrator and some aspects of the plot. The narrator can be a bit whiny and boy obsessed. The plot is fun and entertaining, but there are aspects that just cross the disgust line. Read it to find out what I mean. I don’t want to give away important, plot ruining details.
Casual reader: I love magazines. The vibrant colors. The glossy pages. Never knowing what you will find on the next page. So intriguing. My favorite magazine is House Beautiful. I have yet to find a house in that magazine that isn’t breathtaking, even if it doesn’t represent my personal style. I usually destroy my House Beautiful magazines. Literally. I cut out pictures and articles about designs that I would like to use in my own house. Thanks to this magazine, my 1970’s house is slowing progressing out of 1970.
I am an avid texter. Generally, I prefer texting over actually talking on the phone. So texts are a constant form of reading in my life. I like multitasking. If I text, I can also have a conversation with the person in front of me. And that’s the end of that story.
I also like Facebook; although, this is not a regular part of my life. I usually log into Facebook to read about my friends and relatives about once a month.
Semester goal: Each of my classes experiences independent reading. My CyberEnglish class is encouraged to read young adult literature. My English 11 American Literature class has to read novels by American authors. My AP Language class has to read nonfiction since the class revolves around creating strong arguments in writing. My goal for this semester is to read one book that fits into each of these requirements. This will further my ability to recommend strong pieces of literature to my students.