• Stephanie Yewdell

A trip down memory lane: Part nine


Thanks to Facebook memories, I was reintroduced to my first literacy blog I created for a grad school assignment. I am going to be reposting my old posts here. They are a reminder of why I became a teacher. They are a reminder of how I developed my teaching style. They are a reminder of my pedagogical philosophy. Many of the posts I have reread, still ring true to me and are embedded in my daily practice as a teacher.

Originally Posted on "I'm Making Readers & Writers For Life," December 16, 2011.

So I have waxed eloquently on here about what I plan to implement as a teacher. However I never really divulged why I want to become a teacher. Yes it is to make a difference but subconsciously lies the real reason. This past semester, (yes it's over! Sad to see some classes end (Social Studies) and others not so much (Math)) I took a children's literature class that reopened my eyes to the wonderment that is children's literature. Our 1st assignment was to write our own bio of our reading habits (below). What I soon discovered is that as a child I had a voracious appetite for books but could never satisfy my hunger. Then it dawned on me one day, I am becoming a teacher to have an excuse to read all the books I never got around to as a child. Through my class I discovered that children's literature is not a whole lot different than the stuff we read as adults. The stories run parallel themes that infiltrate the books for an older set. There are love stories, struggles, uncertainties, and discoveries. Well written children's novels weave an intricate plot that engages the reader to turn page after page. In a nut shell, children’s literature is adult literature either written in the child’s perspective or marketed to children. Chances are you ate up all 7 Harry Potter’s even though they are “kid’s books.” So this break instead of catching up on reality TV or gossip sites I plan to plow through one or two of those books that never got to be cracked open when I was a wee one.

Journal: Write your own reading autobiography. What memories do you have of your early reading? Did either of your parents read to you? Do you recall any of the books read to you as a child? Did any teachers or librarians read aloud to you? What books did you own as a child? What were some of your favorites? Do you recall any that you did not like? Do you know why? Were there any characters with whom you related closely?

My mother always read to me. Every night before bed I would pick out a book from the shelf. From what I can remember I always loved Good Night Moon and Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I find this ironic because had I graduated from Vandy while Chancellor Gee was in office I would have received that at my college graduation. I loved to look at the pictures and jump right into the book with the characters. My mother usually took on the reading duties because my father has dyslexia and it would often be hard for him to read aloud. She would patiently read the books over and over to me, until I finally had them memorized. Once the book was finished, I would ask her to read it again. When I was in elementary school, each March was P.A.R.P.: Parents As Reading Partners. Each night we were to go home and read aloud to our parents. It was a friendly competition to encourage students to go home and read.

In school, it all started with Roger Red Hat in Mrs. Cesarano’: s kindergarten class at Ridge Street School. I remember breaking out into guided reading groups and reading the same book as some of my peers. I loved the challenge of reading the books, but was hard on myself because I was not reading the hardest option available. By the end of first grade, I was reading independently with little help from my parents at home. Also, I loved the Library period we had each week. Once a week, all throughout elementary school we would go up to the Library. There Mrs. Goldman would read us a story, which usually tied in with that week’ s lesson. After she read to us we were encouraged to check out books, specifically that tied into what we were learning that unit. I remember looking at all the chapter books and wanting so badly to take them out. I think by 3rd or 4th grade I did take them out, and really enjoyed reading them, but some were hard to read. When I was able to master the chapter book I started the American Girl Doll series of books for Molly. Molly was my favorite because she modern and adventurous. Also, the World War Two era had really fascinated me because my grandfather had fought in the war.

As I got older, into Middle School I would read book after book. When my family moved and I had a brand, spanking new room the only request I had for the construction was to have one long shelf at the top of my room to put all my books. On the left were the books to be read and read ones were to the right. When I had to clean out my room last summer I noticed that the right side was far more loaded than the right. In middle school, I started reading more adult books, but still loved the Princess Diaries series. I would stalk Meg Cabot’s website hoping it would be that much closer to the release date of the next book. To me Mia Thermopolis was the coolest, best friend a girl could want. I wanted to live her life in New York City and be free and artistic just like her. While waiting for the next book in the series to be released, I started reading adult books. The most memorable books from middle school were Summer Sisters and She’s Come Undone. I was so into She’s Come Undone that the binding of the book broke, and when I reread Summer Sisters for book club it was just as good the second time around. During summers at sleep away camp, me and my friends would skip activities to hide in the woods to read by the lake. In High School, I began to appreciate the books our teachers assigned to us. I loved looking for symbolism in Lord of the Flies, and truly understanding what Romeo and Juliet was about. While Leo was easy on the eyes, reading Shakespeare’s text was that much more powerful. I am not going to lie, there were times when Cliff Notes were used to get through some of the painful stuff I had to read for English class. It was dry or above my level or I was not mature enough at the time to grasp what the author was saying. In eleventh grade however I loved almost every book Mrs. Jackson assigned to us. From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to The Great Gatsby I was excited for the homework she would assign us. Senior year, I was enrolled in AP European History, and over the summer I was to read The Girl with the Pearl Earring, my absolute favorite book. My senior year, I was also the president of the book club (and captain of the math team to help increase the nerd factor). Outside of the class room I was always reading independent books.

At one of the first classes at Vanderbilt that I enrolled in was an English course. The professor assigned Of Mice and Men, this I was not happy about. I hated it in High School, but I read that Steinbeck in hours. Due to the fact I loved it so much, I later picked up some of his other works. Unfortunately, I never found the time to finish them, but one day. During summers, I would commute from Westchester into the City and would read book after book. The summer, I was placed in the Brooklyn office for the company where I was interning was the summer I would read book after book. On average, I finished a book a week. After college, I unfortunately did not pick up where I left off. I could not focus enough on a book to one get involved or two even finish it. This past spring, I picked up the Hunger Games and while I have not voraciously finished it, reading the series is setting me back up to have a healthy appetite for literature.

#Reading #Literature #childrensliterature #Teaching

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