iRead. iWrite.

February 4, 2012
Once upon a time, there was a brilliant girl who grew up in a small, sheltered town. Everyday, she would awake, get ready for school, and race frantically out the door in an attempt to catch the cheese wagon before it passed by her house. While getting ready, she would always check, and double check her backpack to make sure she had at least the bare essentials to power her through her day. The girl’s three essentials included a book, some sort of writing utensil, and a notebook. Even in her innocent age, this elementary-aged girl already had a burning passion for reading and writing. As she grew up, she desperately refuted the world’s view and ideals of reading and writing, writing even more so, as lost arts. She became increasingly introspective and her thoughts and ideas blossomed like the flowers in April (simile.) She found comfort in reading and writing. They carried her through the jungle of junior and senior high (metaphor.) To say that she lived happily ever after would be unjustifiable, because this is not the end of her story; this is not the end of my story. The tale of my reading and writing adventures as a whole is unfinished. It is a work in progress and this is only the beginning.

I love to read and I love to write. Of the two, I may favor writing just a tad bit more. However, reading is more social and socially accepted. When I am asked what I am reading at any given time, my answer will more than likely either be 1.) Insert title of current book here or 2.) I am in between books at the moment. Needless to say, I am always reading. As a result, the amount of books I have read over the course of my lifetime is vastly innumerable (hyperbole.) The shelves in my room are lined with book after book, and I am running out of room. So, when did my love affair with reading truly begin? Hop into my time machine, we are going back to the first grade.

The year was 2001. The school was Shipshewana-Scott Elementary and the teacher, Mr. Hart. I had taught myself to read prior to first grade, maybe even prior to kindergarten/pre-school, and I have been told that I was already light years ahead of my school chums in my reading level. Mr. Hart decided to have me leave the class during guided reading time and engage in an independent study of sorts instead of doing the same thing as the rest of the class. This was my very first year, with many to succeed it, in the ACCESS program.

Everyday I would go to the Title 1 room by myself to read books independently and then take Accelerated Reading tests on them. This fueled my already spontaneously combusting (metonymy) love for reading because it was independent and I got the privilege of choosing the books I read. I can vividly recall, about once a week, walking my tub of use-expired books up the stairs and around the corner to the library. I would absorb as much time as I could in that book room, which seemed to a first grader like it contained all the books in the world. I can still picture the library in my head. I walk through to double doors on the fourth grade hallway side and shelves line the walls. In the middle are tables and chairs to read at, and on the far side of the room are the shelves that jut out like the spokes of a wheel from the other shelves. These are my favorite. I can hide in-between the rows of shelves and go on a books safari. If I am lucky, I will find an empty squishy chair by the fish tank. This is where some serious reading would happen. The lights, which are a little dimmer here, have a calming effect. The water from the fish tank trickles like a small brook (simile.) Eventually I would have to leave that book room to go back to the Title 1 room or to the class room, but I would leave feeling like a saturated sponge (simile.)

Not only did I leave the library and the first grade as a saturated sponge, but I also entered the second grade as a saturated sponge with an ever increasing ability to absorb (simile.) My second grade teacher’s name was Mrs. Koontz. Second grade was one of my favorite years of elementary school because everything in that class was simply fantastic. My teacher was great; she had us do some crazy things. Everyday we would jump around and do crazy exercises to music. This stimulated our learning community, otherwise known as our classroom. She also encouraged us to develop our own ideas and personalities. The amount that I remember from that year shocks me. In the back corner of the classroom was the reading area. It was a secluded spot with a canopy over the top and books on the inside. It was almost like a cave or secret hideout. Being able to enter the “secret spot” was a privilege, especially to people who really loved to read.

Somewhere along the line of my reading history, my dad aided me in the discovery of the Little House on the Prairie series. I do believe it might have been in the second grade. When is irrelevant; the fact that they were discovered, on the other hand, is very relevant. I loved reading about Laura Ingalls and about all of her adventures on the prairie. Her books appealed to me so much because I love being outside and I am, as was Laura, a tomboy. Her books served as a gateway to another time and place.

My dad is one of the main characters in my reading yarn. He encouraged and empowered me to read as much as I could. He would take me to bookstore after bookstore just so I could read the inside cover of books and make my birthday or Christmas list. As I said before, he is the one who got me hooked on the Little House books. My dad is a big supporter in all that I do, but he is my number one fan when it comes to anything academically related. He encourages me to be the best that I can be and to broaden my horizons with the aid of literature. My dad once said, “Use the resources of those around you to make you smarter.” He truly believes this and his actions of encouraging my reading are justified through his quote.

A second series that I got sucked into was the Heartland series by Lauren Brook. It intrigued me even more than the Little House books. The books were about horses and the natural and herbal remedies used to treat them. I was definitely interested in both of these topics seeing as I was planning on becoming a veterinarian at the time. The main character, Amy, was close to my age and this made her a relatable character. The books were fast and easy reads, yet, I learned something new about natural remedies with every book that I read. I continued to read the entire series until I reached the final book. Then, I read through them all again. Horse books in general were my genre of choice. If any book even mentioned the word “horse,” then I would read it.

Where do books come from? Do they write themselves (rhetorical question?) Obviously, they have to be thought of and written before they can be read. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, but I believe that writing really does take predominance over reading. My infatuation with writing truly spawned from my second grade experiences. Mrs. Koontz enheartened our writing whatever came into our second grade heads. She helped us “publish” our writings into books. I still have all of my published works and I enjoy looking back through them from time to time. I also still possess the majority of my composition books from various writing classes throughout my educatory years. I occasionally flip back through them to enjoy the feeling of nostalgia that wraps around me like a favorite childhood blanket. Reflecting through them gives me perspective on how much I have grown in maturity, knowledge, and ability since then.

As I was going on more and more adventures with the increasing number of books on my requisite, a thought occurred to me: why do not I create my own story? How awesome would it be to write something entirely fantastic and have it published into a book? Ever since then legitimately publishing something has been an unchecked box on my bucket list. Writing is something that fills me by letting me pour out of myself into whatever I am writing. Journaling has been a huge part of my life, especially over the course of the past 4 years and increasingly more within the last year. Writing is something that is mine and mine alone. Just as reading is a somewhat mindless escape, writing is also an escape. I could be sitting on the cold cement among an immense amount on noise in the middle of Times Square and be writing and my mind would be completely at peace. Writing is something that I enjoy doing. It is not a chore to me, as it is to some people. Freshman year we were assigned a substantial amount of essays by Mrs. Varner. Other people hated it, I enjoyed it, they whined, I inwardly rejoiced (antithesis.) At the beginning of the year she assigned us a multi-genre project which was to entail twenty various projects of our choice as long as it related back to the assigned topic, which was slavery and the Underground Railroad. It was indeed a stressful way to start the school year, but it also gave us a chance to express our ideas in different ways that appealed to oneself. Rather than writing a classic research paper, we, as a class, were given the freedom to not just spit back facts, but to share our personal ideas and opinions.

Writing obviously entails words. I love words. I love the way they sound, feel, look, come together to make sentences which in turn make paragraphs (asyndeton.) If I hear a word and I do not know what it means, I am in a state of discontent until I am empowered with the knowledge of its meaning. I love using a thesaurus and expanding my vocabulary. I even love expanding my Spanish vocabulary. Spanish comes easily to me and I enjoy speaking and writing in Spanish. It is an expansion of my normal reading and writing and it just exercises my mind in a different way. It is like cross-training for my brain. Since I love writing and reading as much as I do, school has come naturally and it has actually been an enjoyable experience, thus far. I enjoy learning and hope to continue learning for the entirety of my life.

The gift of my ability to read and write belongs to me; no one can ever take it away from me, lest I be dead. I could lose “everything,” by the world’s standards, but I would still have the most important thing in the world: literacy. I truly believe that reading and writing opens doors. They provide an escape. They take you on adventures you could only dream of. Reading and writing are outlets, a way to express yourself. They are enjoyable and as fun and you make them. They provide a way to communicate. They are the basis of all education and knowledge (anaphora.) Reading and writing are power. Having the ability to read and write is like having the world at your finger tips (simile.) All you have to do is stretch out your fingers a little bit and you can touch the world (metaphor.)

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