Tell about your early language and literacy development. How did you come to reading and writing? What role did school play? Did family play? Other community affiliations?
I remember the first book I ever read. Actually, I didn’t really read the book I just memorized the story. Although, I don’t remember the title of the book, I still remember the illustrations and if I saw it somewhere I would recognize it. My sister, Julie, would read that story to me every night, and eventually I tied the sentences with the pictures on each of the pages. I use to show off to my parents and read the book to them, and I’d give credit to Julie and say that she taught me how to read. I think I was about three or four years old at that time.
My Aunt Celia took care of me when I was still too young to be in school, and she would always take me to the public library. I remember loving to go to the library. I thought it was so beautiful, and they had a section dedicated to little girls like me. I remember the little chairs and desk that looked almost identical to the grown-ups chairs and desks. I remember loving the pop-up books, and I would be so angry if any of them were torn or tattered in any way. I was also mad because the pop-up books weren’t available for check out, so I could never take them home with me. I spent a lot of time in that library growing up. Actually, I still love going to my public library, and sometimes it saves me so much money because some of the books for my current classes are available.
From grade school to middle school, I was a so-called outstanding student. I remember my Dad use to give me a dollar for every substantial book I read. I guess it’s sad to think that my Dad bribed me into reading, and I’ll admit that part of the reason why I read so much was to make more money, but it definitely motivated me to read more, which I guess is good. In middle school, I was definitely a book worm. I remember being into all kinds of books. I loved the Goosebumps collection, The Boxcar Children mystery stories by Gertrude Chandler Warner, all the books by Judy Blume, and even the Amelia Bedelia series. It’s kind of funny thinking about all those books I had read before. I remember that in my middle school if a student had read a certain amount of books they would then get the opportunity to dunk the Principal in a dunk tank at the end of the school year. I was one of those people who got that chance.
Reading for me was always easy because I enjoyed it, but writing was different story. I like to think that I have all these great ideas, but I found it difficult to put them on paper. In middle school, I was a part of the Academic Pentathlon team. I remember being so surprised when I won 5th place in the essay part of the competition. I always thought I was terrible at writing. I think I won because I inputted a bunch of perspectives on the novel we had to read for the English section of the competition. In High School, I remember struggling so much just to put together a paragraph that I felt worked. I think it was because I had never been that great with grammar. Actually, I don’t recall ever learning how to properly use grammar in grade school. Now, as an English major in college, grammar is still my weakness.