Growing up, I was not the best reader. I was the kid who would go back and read to the younger classes but math was definitely my strong suit. My mom actually read aloud to me for a while growing up. She actually read a couple books to my siblings and I when we were younger, even though I threw a fit, I hated when she read out loud and her book choice. But whenever I had to read a short novel for class, we would read it together, sometimes she would make me read out loud to work on my skills. Together we would talk about the books and she would ask me questions about it. Looking back she definitely was strengthening my critical thinking skills. But I definitely struggled. I was not good at taking test, she had to put me into reading courses over the summer. My mom was amazing in her dedication to finding the resources to help me achieve my goals.
I remember we were reading Where The Red Fern Grows in 5th grade and i asked her about the end of the book as I was terrified that Old Dan was going to die and was freaking out. My mom told me the ending where, sadly, Old Dan is attacked by a fox and in fact, does dies. I started sobbing, FYI I was a super sensitive kid, and my mom was like never again am I telling you a sad ending to anything. I think I was seriously scarred from that ending and I was kind of scared to read for a while.
It was not until 8th grade where I remember reading novels again. But we read such strange novels that never stood out to me. In all honestly, it was not until 10th grade where I feel like I read a book of substance in my academic career. Do not get me wrong, Where the Red Fern Grows taught me a lot about the realities of life but nothing challenged my way of thinking. However in 10th grade I had to read books like Anthem by Ayn Rand or Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (which I may actually be teaching this summer to 8th grader, talk about coming full circle). Those were books that made me start to think about a bigger picture. My teacher started to ask us question I had think about, I could not just spit out the answer. Then junior and senior year is where I was challenged more than I thought. The books became more complicated and we, as students, had much more power. As a class, my junior year, we had choices between what we could read and even in our discussions. The power a novel was something I never knew until High School. I think that should change, reading a good book is a joy everyone deserves to have. I feel like this is something that should start wayyyyy earlier in future education and maybe more kids will actually read books in High School instead of using Sparknotes like a lot of us may or may not have done.