Reading has always been fundamental in my family. My parents read to my sister and me very early on and that led to a lifelong love of reading. We watched very little TV growing up and books were my main form of (solitary) entertainment. We also travelled often, and books make the best travel companions: easy to carry, entertaining and fairly inexpensive. I have read a large variety of books – some for school, many due to suggestions from family and friends, and some that just looked interesting as I browsed the library. Due to lack of free time, lately, my reading has been more focused on books for class. However, I’m hoping I’ll have more time soon and can begin reading more books for fun.
When I asked my parents how young they started reading to me I expected an answer of somewhere around six months or a year. Instead, they informed me that they had been actively reading to me since literally the day I was born and that they read to my sister while I was in the womb, just inches away. Thus, my love of reading began before I’d taken my first breath. Many of my earliest memories are of snuggling up in bed with my sister and my mom or dad reading to us until we fell asleep. We made it all the way through The Little House on the Prairie series and the first several in the Harry Potter series, along with countless other books, like that.
I also learned to read very young, at the age of four. My sister learned to read before me, as she is two years my superior. She was my closest playmate, but once she started reading, she ignored me more often because she (like everyone in my family) loves reading. This encouraged me to learn to read on my own so that I would be able to entertain myself. Unfortunately, this didn’t end up working very well because, even though I could read at four, I didn’t enjoy it very much for another year and a half. Then I began to devour series like The Magic Treehouse and Boxcar Children. Until then, I much preferred to be read to, which my parents still did on a regular basis until I was seven or eight.
After I began to actually like reading on my own, I quickly fell in love with it. When I was younger, I didn’t get in trouble very much (I still don’t), but when I did my parents would never ground me and prevent me from playing outside with my friends, or take away tv – they would ground me from books (anything not required for school). This was probably the worst possible punishment they could have inflicted on me.
In elementary school, we took tests regularly to test our reading lexiles so that we would read appropriately difficult books. The rule was that the book had to be within 100 points of our lexile (up or down). This proved to be a slight issue for me as there were precisely 4 books in the school library in that range, including Silent Spring. However, I read them and learned a great deal. I then turned to the public library where I was able to find many other great books.
Also in elementary school, we had a morning tv show for the school, run by students. It had many segments, such as the weather and the menu for lunch. There was a segment called “Reading Corner” that gave a review on a book three times a week. I took over the piece in sixth grade, which turned out to be a great experience for me. It gave me an incentive to read a large variety of books, since I was supposed to be reviewing them for others, not just reading the genres I liked the best. I ended up reading a great deal of short books and children’s books, because I needed to review so many books. But I could easily finish a 300 or 400-page book over the weekend, so I still read plenty that were a good length.
In high school, especially the last couple of years, I mostly read books for class. I spent a significant amount of time on homework and sports, and a good amount hanging out with friends. While this left me with little time to read books for pleasure, I still found some time and managed to finish a few impressive titles such as 1984 and War and Peace. Even though I read mostly for school, I enjoyed many of the novels and plays that we read, such as Shakespeare and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The most recent book that I’ve read was Just Mercy (the campus common book this year), which I finished just last Saturday. It was a fantastic book and a great change of pace from the Carl Hiaasen books I’ve been binge-reading all summer (they are comedy mystery novels and I would highly recommend them). I’ve also enjoyed the things we’ve read for class so far (obviously some more than others) and I’m excited to read more of them and to check out what the library has to offer for fun reading.
Reading has been a huge factor in shaping my life. It has influenced who my friends are – often people who also love to read. My friends, along with the books I’ve read, have shaped my personality. Reading has also gotten me where I am today – beginning college. Obviously, I wouldn’t be in college if I were illiterate, but that’s not what I mean. Reading is how I have learned much of what I know. I learned some things in classes but reading lets me learn whatever I want on my own. I taught myself geometry over one summer, which was only possible because I had access to a textbook. I have a higher vocabulary because I’ve read books that push me and force me to look up unfamiliar words. Learning these new words helped me to do well on the SAT, which helped me to get into Auburn and the Honors college here. Reading has allowed me to become the person I am today.