I remember my best friend, Jenna, going to her “cubby” in our preschool classroom. Each little box had a laminated sheet of paper, with our names printed in big text along the page. I watched as Jenna approached her cubby, the one that spelled out J-E-N-N-A. The other 15 or so kids did the same thing and I, eventually, went to H-A-I-L-E-Y, one of the first words I learned to recognize. I soon began to connect the way I knew their names sounded to the letters on the page. I was a very smart child; even before I could read, I knew the alphabet backwards before Jenna knew it forwards. We still joke about that to this day. After learning how to sound out words, I began really reading when I was about 4 years old and by kindergarten and first grade, I started reading shorter chapter books and eventually, much longer ones, like my all-time favorite series, Harry Potter.
In middle school, I still had a very strong interest in learning. I tended to read a lot more out of class than for school work. In 6th grade, I remember reading the entire Hunger Games series in less than a week. For the texts assigned in my literature and english courses, I was instructed to write short responses and even wrote my first book report. Soon, as I transitioned into high school, reading seemed more like a chore than something I truly enjoyed. I read very dense texts like Jane Eyre and The Odyssey starting in 9th grade. However, senior year of high school, I really enjoyed my english course. I took “Contemporary Fiction Literature,” a seminar course for students who passed both AP Language and AP Literature. I finally liked going to my english class, the first time in what seemed like years. Although there were no formal assessments, like quizzes and exams, in that course, I was challenged with 3 ten page research papers throughout the course of the year. Although I got frustrated writing them, I have found value in completing them, especially with the number of papers I have been writing in my college courses.
As much as I hope I would not have to admit it, much of my freetime now is dedicated to social media, rather than reading like it was in the past. I currently utilize Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to keep up with my friends and the world I live in. It especially now helps me to connect with my friends who are attending colleges nationwide and I now still maintain close relationships with them, and almost forget the distance with the ease of communication. It makes life so much easier now, being able to communicate not only through voice calls, but with the use of text and images. I can easily send text messages in much less time than it would be to actually make a phone call. Some may argue that this is a bad thing, yet doing so has improved my typing abilities and I still use phone calls and FaceTime calls very often.
Although I still love to read, I think my biggest struggle with reading, especially when I was younger but still today, is trying to read for school when I have little interest in the topic. I tend to get distracted if I am not fully engrossed in the plot of the book, or any other type of textual material. I also tend to have trouble when writing to get my ideas from my head written down on paper. I often feel like I have very coherent thoughts but sometimes it is hard for me to exactly transfer my thoughts to words on a page. It takes me awhile to write longer papers, especially if I do not take my time preparing a detailed outline.
Photo: In 6th grade, I dressed up as my favorite literary character of all time: Harry Potter.
Photo credits to Alisa Karten (my mom)