A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
Here we are at the end of another semester of school and many of us just want to move on with their lives and summer. Screw remembering what the consequences of Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean or what a spongy mesophyll is, it’s time to ‘pah-tay’ and work so that we’ll have money to buy textbooks in the fall. There are times when our focus becomes too driven by the future and what lies ahead that we do not take the time to look at what we have done and what it means to us. So, excuse me while I take a moment to reflect back on this spring semester and specifically this class.
Time to hold up the proverbial mirror and see the changes…
I walked into this class thinking I would probably be reading a bunch of Nancy Drew and Twilight and I was a little more than apprehensive about using twitter. Blogging was another story though. I was thrilled we would be blogging because I’ve always wanted an excuse to blog and finally I had one. I follow blogs like Hyperbole and a Half and I really wanted to know if maybe I could get a similar response to my blog. Of course, this is a slightly unrealistic goal when you’re writing about books in an age where reading comes second to most people while movies, video games, and T.V. come first. Yet, I was so surprised when people I didn’t know started liking my posts and following me. I found that tiny gleam of “you can write and people like to read it.” As a future English teacher, this is a great epiphany. I can write. People seem to like what I’m writing. I feel more comfortable with sharing this experience with my students and encouraging them to do the same. Blogging is all about sharing and I’m a pretty private person, but somehow this has worked miracles for my confidence as a writer.
Also, who knew that adolescent literature could be so deep? I remember reading certain books in elementary, junior high school, and high school that I thought were good, but that have always had a childish feeling about them. With this class as a great excuse to go back and reread some books and discover others, I found that this childish idea about adolescent lit was childish in and of itself. These books written for teenagers are incredibly complex and relatable. It’s stunning. I have found several books that I am willing to stake my career on because they deserve a place in our classic heavy classroom.
So many unacknowledged books…. I like to think this girl is hiding from the rotten fruit about to be thrown at her for her admission in liking adolescent books.
I have a greater appreciation for non-fiction now as well. Normally, I have always thought of non-fiction books as horribly dry or filled with pictures and text that makes me feel as though I’m ten again. Books like Bomb have blown that notion out of the water. Non-fiction can be written so well it reads like engaging fiction. I am actually planning on exploring this further in my own writing. What makes a true story readable and interesting besides the writer themselves?
Explosions. Everyone loves an explosion. We need more explosions in non-fiction work.
This class also proved to me that I do have time to read. Before, it seemed a daunting task to take up a book and begin reading during school. I felt there was always so little time and then I realized that there was actually so much time. It was definitely an eye opening experience and even though I wouldn’t be able to tell you what I was doing with my time before, I now know what I’ll be filling it with. (Curse you, book series.)
The current state of my bedroom…
Also, in shorter retrospect, this week I read Penny Kittle’s book “Book Love” and I love that book. I fell in love with it when she wrote, “In philosophy, political science, Western civilization, and oceanography I found that all I knew was a small part of all I might know if I kept reading.” It was at this moment in the introduction that this book and I became friends. The fact that Ms. Kittle refuses to be stomped down by standardized curriculum and test and works to give her students the passion to keep reading and become reading adults is incredibly encouraging. It makes me want to keep trying and was the bright light of hope that brightened a questioning end to a semester. This is the right thing for me and I’m going to be okay and so will my students.
Yes, even girls like this can learn to love reading.
All I’ve got to say is “Thank God for books.”
Proof that everyone and their cat likes books.
P.S. The other day I found an envelope marked “Open on April 23, 2013” and so I did. It was a notecard written to me by my ten year old self. I wanted to know if I was going to be an architect. I couldn’t help but laugh.
This is not my future… At all. I escaped wearing safety hats with education.
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Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
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New York City based photographer STEFAN FALKE visits artists who live and work on both sides of the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region for his ongoing project. All photos and texts © Stefan Falke (No use without written permission by the author)