At this time of year, when many of us are giving thanks, I want to take a moment to say how thankful I am for the people who instilled in me the importance of reading books.
I can credit no one person with teaching me to read; it was truly a team effort. My mom and dad each memorized countless books from reading to me so much, and I never had a shortage of appropriate material to enjoy. My parents were jointly committed to my literacy, and I will always be grateful for their dedication.
When I was seven years-old, my Pup-Pup taught me the need to respect books when he caught me dog-earing a chapter book for later reading. I remember him explaining how critical it was to take care of books for others to enjoy. We may think we are the owners of our books, but we are really keeping them safe for future readers.
My Nanna continues to remind me that the best people are readers. Whether they read books, magazines, newspapers, or other media, the voracious readers are the ones you want to call friends.
Going to school increased my desire to read everything I could find. My first-grade teacher let me be proud of my reading accomplishments. When I quickly filled my first reading sticker chart, she expanded it until it spanned a wall. My fifth-grade teacher reminded me that you are never too old to read aloud. My AP English Language and Literature teachers taught me to be a critical reader.
My professors at Towson have continually pushed me to read texts that challenge my preconceived ideas. I am lucky to be presented with authors of varying races, ethnicities, genders, religions, ages, and ideals. I am thankful for the care they use when considering diversity in their instruction.
Around the world there are many who do not have the opportunity to learn to read. There are students who have turned away from reading because their teachers cannot or do not take the time to find texts that matter to them. And, of course, there are places where books and appropriate reading materials are not readily available.
My intention is not to make people feel guilty about their literary privilege. I hope only to remind myself of the many, many individuals who worked so lovingly to teach me. A combination of that hard work, plus the luck of my circumstances, have ultimately led me to develop my own literary tastes and a love of writing. These gifts will last much longer than one turkey-filled day; they are eternal.
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.