Monday, February 5, 2007

What Reading Means To Me

Before I began attending elementary school, I remember being read to by my mother. She read to me in Spanish and probably all that she did read to me were bible stories. I enjoyed this time because it was half an hour or so that my mother put aside to spend time with me and my sister. I remember being very interested in what the book said and I felt I understood the story probably because my mother did a very good job when explaining it. Although my sister already knew how to read Spanish because she is almost five years older, it was through these reading sessions with my mother that I learned how to read Spanish. Later when my sister began to read English, she started to read her books to me and I began to learn words in English. This was also another time that I very much enjoyed because it was once again learning something new. Perhaps learning new words in English were not as difficult for me because I already knew how to read and write basic Spanish words. It could also be because I was still young and learning things at this age tend to be a lot easier.

By the time I was in the first grade I remember that I was a very good reader for my age and was usually ahead of everyone else. Of course at that age that made me feel very smart and unique. I was one of those kids that would constantly volunteer to read and I think that it was because of that enthusiasm that I had for reading that also led me to be a better speller at that age. There was a time when my mother had a parent teacher conference with my second grade teacher and Mrs. Huerta recommended that my mother did not teach me how to read and write Spanish because she said it would confuse me while I was learning how to read and write English. My mother did not think it made sense to do that because I already knew how to read Spanish and I was still doing quite good in class. I do not know exactly how Mrs. Huerta thought it would affect me, but I think that it was an excellent thing to know both languages. I think that it caused me to be a better reader because of the similarities in vocabulary. Although, now that I have been in school since kindergarten and throughout that time being taught and learned to read only in English, I have become a much better reader and writer in the English language. It is difficult for me to, for example, read a novel in Spanish because I am not used to doing so and I do not have the same knowledge for Spanish vocabulary.

During that time in elementary school I began to develop the love that I have for reading. I loved to read any books that the teacher had and enjoyed the time that the class was spent in the library. I loved when either the teacher or librarian had a reading session for the class and read books to us. It was the 5th or 6th grade when I first began to read short chapter books and it was because I searched in the library or I ordered them. At that time the chapter books seemed very long compared to the others and I enjoyed reading these because there was more detail, more to be explained and more to think about. When I began to read actual chapter books or those with 100 to 200 pages, was when I was in the 7th and 8th grade. The author that I began to have a strong interest in was Stephen King. I guess I developed in interest in his novels because of the mystery and suspense in them. At that time I started to read many of his novels and of other authors like him.

It was not until the time that I was a sophomore in high school that I feel I actually learned how to read. It was in Mr. Agler's English class where things like metaphor and allusion were first introduced to me. I absolutely loved reading the novels that were assigned and perhaps it was not so much what the novel was about, but because I knew what to look for. It was in this class where I first read Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome and since that time it is one of my top 5 favorite novels. This was the time when I became much more interested in reading different authors and in learning what literature was. I was much more interested in the classic novels and learning what it was that made them different from what I was used to reading. Although I began to love reading Shakespeare's sonnets I still enjoy the time I spend reading Koontz or Bradbury.

1 comment:

SC said...

I nodded my head when you mentioned that being literate in your first language made it easier to learn to read in the second. That's one of the principles underlying bi-lingualism, as you may know, and I have seen literate English language learners pick up written English very quickly.

Ethan Frome one of your favorite books! I guess that goes along with the Stephen King -- dark tastes, Denise!