How I learned to love reading

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2014

When I was in elementary school, my parents grounded me from reading.
I would read all the time — before school, after school, at lunch, waiting at the doctor’s office, in the car and even when I was walking. One time, I was too busy reading to get my chores done, so I lost my reading privileges.
I didn’t always like reading, though, and my love of reading didn’t start in the classroom.
Learning to read was a struggle. My mom still tells the horror stories of helping me with reading homework.
After months of struggling, my kindergarten teachers told my parents to find a book series I would love and read it to me.
So, my mom and dad read the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder to me every night before bed.
Slowly, but surely, my attitude toward reading began to change.
It started with “Farmer Boy,” the third book in the Little House on the Prairie series.
“You had a bookmark in it that stayed in the same place for a while, then one day I noticed that it was at about the three-quarters mark. That was when I asked you if you’d been reading it,” my mom told me.
“You were very proud of yourself. I was beaming,” she added.
After reading Wilder’s books, I devoured Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Boxcar Children series and the American Girl books. As I got older, I started Martha Finley’s Elsie Dinsmore series. The list goes on and on — it was rare to find me without my nose in a book.
Reading at home, especially over the summer, changed my life. It opened up my mind to time periods gone by, unique people and foreign places. I learned new vocabulary and absorbed grammar and syntax.
I think it’s safe to say that without summer reading, I wouldn’t be writing this column today.
As I got into high school, college and eventually my career, finding time to settle down with a good book became harder and harder to do.
But each time I do, it’s so worth it.
Right now, I’m reading “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman and “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. Oh, and I’m still trying to catch up on the last three issues of “Real Simple” magazine.
All this talk of summer reading made me curious. So, I decided to ask some people what they’re reading this summer. These are the responses I received.
Honor Belton, a seventh-grader at North Rowan Middle School, is reading “The Hunger Games.” “I really like the fact that it’s in the future and there’s certain rules you have to follow,” she said.
Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said she’s reading “Achievement for All: Keys to Educating Middle Grades Students in Poverty” by Ruby Payne and “Leverage Leadership” by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo. Both books were recommended to her, and she orders most of her books on Amazon.
Karla Sanchez, a seventh-grader at North Rowan Middle School, said she’s reading a book called “Smile.” Sanchez said she picked “Smile” because the cover looked really interesting, and the back of the book intrigued her.
Luke Brown, principal of Salisbury High School, is reading “Making Learning Whole” by David Perkins and “A Chance To Make History” by Wendy Kopp. He just finished reading “Make Space” by Scott Doorly and Scott Witthoft.
Brown said he picked the books because they talk about how to make schools better by using space more efficiently, getting all students interested in learning and improving schools. “I typically get my books from iBooks,” he said, but added, “From time to time, someone will pass one along and I’ll read through it.”
Ryan Bame is a homeschooled ninth-grader. Bame said he’s reading “Sherlock Holmes” and “anything I can get my hands on.” He said he chose to read “Sherlock Holmes” because he’s always wanted to and he’s been told it’s good. Most of his books either come from the library or his personal collection.
“I usually have about two or three books on the night stand,” said Elaine Spalding, president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. She just finished reading “Blood Orange” and “How Successful People Think.”
Spalding said she picks her books through book club recommendations, or by trading books with family and friends. She also looks for professional development books. Spalding prefers to buy her books locally, at bookstores like Literary Bookpost in downtown Salisbury.
Chairman of the Kannapolis City Schools Board of Education Todd Adams said he tends “to read a lot of periodicals — a lot of magazines and newspapers.” He’s currently reading “The Everything Store,” written by the founder of Amazon because a friend recommended it. Adams said his family uses the library a lot, but he also buys books online or looks for bargain books at bookstores.
Melissa Oleen, who is the youth services supervisor for Rowan Public Library, is reading “The Bedlam Detective” and the Aubrey/Maturin series. In addition, she’s been reading “Divergent” and is always reading a cookbook. Oleeen said she always rents books from the library, and has recently been exploring the North Carolina Digital Library, accessible through the library’s website.
Mary Hemphill, principal of Koontz Elementary, is rereading “The Fred Factor,” by Mark Sanborn, with a foreword by John C. Maxwell. “Sometimes the best reads I have during my leisure time are the books that already occupy my shelves,” she said, adding that she typically downloads ebooks to her tablet.