A friend recently posted about how excited her kids are to be participating in March into Reading at their school, and I was instantly transported back to my own adolescence and being so excited to get my very own personal pan pizza once I read enough books. I was also thrilled to discover that Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! program is still going strong, 30 years later.
At my school during the month of March, we cut out a giant foot from construction paper for each book we read. The construction paper feet trailed along the walls of the classroom and into the hallways. Whichever class had the longest strand of feet won a pizza party. Apparently pizza and books are my OTP.
I grew up in a tiny Midwest town--so small we didn’t have stoplights. In the summer months I rode my bike along the abandoned railroad tracks with my younger sister to the public library, each of us with an empty backpack strapped to our backs. We’d go to the library at least once a week, fill our book bags up with novels, and ride our bikes back home to do nothing but read all summer long. In fact, whenever I acted out as a child, my parents’ punishment was not allowing me to read.
From a very young age I fell in love with words. Judy Blume taught me everything I needed to know about being a girl, The Babysitter’s-Club series provided me models of true friendship, and Nancy Drew told me it was okay to be curious and to ask questions and to be exceptional and different.
I benefited from remarkable elementary teachers who nurtured my enthusiasm for books. My 5th grade teacher was particularly formative. I vividly remember acting out scenes in class from A Wrinkle In Time and transforming our classroom with butcher-block paper into the subway in Slake’s Limbo and eating saltines with ketchup like the central character. It was my 5th grade teacher who also encouraged me to write my first novel. Reading was the foundation of my zeal for writing fiction. Essentially, I wrote the books I wanted to read, which is a practice that continues today.
I wonder about other people's relationships to reading and books. Have you always been a reader? Or did you come late to it? I'd love to hear your "root" stories about a book or a teacher or a program that made you fall for reading.
In my own book news, my (ambitious) goal is to finish Cold Blooded Lover before the end of this month. Admittedly it's been hard to find the head-space and time to be creative and write, but I've been absent for far too long.