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Finding that one special book can turn you into a reader for life

Paula's Perspective

June 2, 2013
by Paula Gibbins - Register Staff Writer (pgibbins@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...

This first line, and many others, have caught readers' attentions for centuries.

Is a great first line all it takes to turn someone from being opposed to reading to a lover of the written word?

Probably not.

Some people need a little more of a push. But there is something out there for everyone. That is something I believe with all of my heart.

For me, it was the power of suggestion.

As a kid I enjoyed reading and did it often. I had my own library card and checked out books in droves.

And the Scholastic book sales at school were like a gold mine of little treasures to keep me going.

Then, one year, I had a less-than-wonderful experience in school with teachers who I felt were unfair. This put me off of enjoying school and everything connected to it (including reading). I did not pick up a book voluntarily for at least a year.

My mom, then an English teacher, was dismayed. We had always had that connection of reading. My dad never really got into reading, except only occasionally. My sisters read too, but not as voraciously as my mom and me.

But, being the hard-headed girl I am, I refused to pick up a book.

Until...

My sister who was in college at the time came home with a book and said I might like it.

I was in seventh grade at this time. To have my college-aged sister recommending a book she read was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Little did I know at the time that the book was actually written for kids my age. But, this book sparked my interest and I became violently hungry for reading once again.

The book? Just a little something called "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" by J.K. Rowling.

I know. That book is a topic of distaste for many because of its content and because of its fame. But, it truly changed (and I believe saved) my life.

After reading that short novel, I went to the book stores and libraries again in search of books that were just as interesting, just as delicious as that one.

In school, I started getting better grades. I always carried a novel with me in case of some down time in class where I could read a few pages. I gobbled up all the books I could lay my hands on.

Then, in the ninth grade, I made it into Honors English. This was a big deal for me. It meant I could read more books and think more critically than I would be able to if I were in a lower level class.

Yes, I was excited to be able to think. I know I'm a nerd. And I'm 100 percent okay with it.

Anyway, that English class was just what I needed. My teacher, Mr. Watkins who, unfortunately, recently passed away challenged me in ways I had never been challenged before.

We were reading Shakespeare and Charles Dickens and Homer. It was glorious to say the least.

The remainder of my high school years, I took as many English classes as possible. Some were good, some were only okay, but they all allowed me to keep reading everything in sight. Really that's all I wanted.

My next life choice was already made for me: major in English.

So, I did.

I'm not saying everyone who reads books is going to be an English major, work at a newspaper and read as much as possible in her spare time.

I am saying that everyone has that one book, that one push, that one thing that will turn them into a reader.

Everyone who has already experienced it can back me up here.

If you are not a reader, keep looking. You just haven't found the right book yet.

Ask your librarian to help. She will probably be able to pick out a book or two that will catch your interest.

Give it a try. Go on.

 
 

 

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