I remember the very first book I read by myself as a kid. I don’t recall the title, but I can still see the illustrations in my mind’s eye – clocks and animals with simple words. I read that book nothing short of a thousand times, feeling so proud of myself each time because I was able to read the book on my own. From the moment I could read by myself, I was hooked. Little did I know how much reading would mean to me as I aged. As an independent person, my ability to read is paramount to me learning new things about cooking, building objects, or simply to satisfy my curiosity on a certain subject.
Before I was able to read to myself, the best days were when teachers would read the Amelia Bedelia books, because they were hilarious to me. I loved seeing how Amelia would confuse things. The Frog and Toad books also filled me with much excitement. I enjoy reading them to my own children now.
Some of my favorite novels to read as a kid were those in a series, such as The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, and The Baby-Sitters Club. I was always rushing off to the town or school libraries to check out the next book in the series, and read countless numbers of these books.
My favorite standalone book from childhood was a book I read in third grade, called Letters From Rifka by Karen Hesse, about a Jewish girl who had to leave Russia in 1919, but becomes separated from her family at Ellis Island. In the book Rifka writes journal entries about what is happening in her life and on her journey. This book opened up the world for me; I remember for the first time feeling empathy for a character’s struggles, interest in history, and the cultures of people who were different from me. I would love to buy a copy of this book to read again as an adult and give to my kids to read someday!
Then came Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Like every 90’s kid, I was drawn into the Sorcerer’s Stone in my fourth grade year. The characters were the same age as I was at the time, making the story all that much more compelling and relatable. As a lonely child who was the new kid in school for the second time in a year, I was drawn into Harry’s story and felt myself wishing for my own letter of acceptance to Hogwarts and great friends like Ron and Hermione. Each year I anxiously looked forward to the release of the next book in the series and would spend the day (sometimes two) locked in my room reading, annoyed by any interruption, even the interruption of meal-time. The final book came out the summer before my senior year of high school. Like many of my fellow Potterheads, I rushed to my local store at midnight with my little brother in tow to buy a copy of The Deathly Hallows. The series and characters grew with me, and will always hold such a special place in my heart. And, I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter to come – hint, hint. Continue reading “My History of Reading – Ashley”