I became a reader in 4th grade at the age of nine when my English teacher, Mrs. McConnell, started reading chapter books aloud to the class. Before that, my mom had always taken me to the library and read books to me. But when Mrs. McConnell readHow to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell to the class, I was hooked. She followed up with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, and the Soup books by Robert Newton Peck. I remember telling my mom that I HAD to have How to Eat Fried Worms and the rest of the Superfudge books. She told me that she’d take me to the library. “No,” I said. “I need to own these books. They have to be mine.”
I think that memory is so vivid for me because it was when I started being hungry for books. I needed them like I needed oxygen. I fell in love with stories and needed to read my favorites over and over again. My bookshelf held classics of children’s and young adult literature (Judy Blume, Betsy Byars, L.M. Montgomery, and Katherine Paterson were a few favorites) as well as popular titles like Sweet Valley Twins. I haunted our local public library, and the local used book store, Liz’s Book Rack, felt like my second home. My mom was always very patient while I browsed the shelves in both places.
As I got older, my reading interests expanded. When I realized that I could be a school librarian instead of a classroom teacher and be around books all day, every day, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. For a while, I felt that it was part of my job as a middle and high school librarian to keep up with young adult titles so that I could recommend books to students. One of the best things about my job as a librarian is that my take-home work is books instead of papers to grade and lesson plans to write! Being a school librarian expanded my interests even more as students shared their favorite books with me. I started to read science fiction and fantasy so that I could talk about these books with my avid student readers. Mysteries, historical fiction, classics, and contemporary fiction in both adult and young adult books have always been favorites. Now that I am a primary school librarian, I find myself drawn to nonfiction books as well.
My hunger for books and stories has not waned over the years. If anything, it has increased because books are so much a part of my daily life as a librarian. I love sharing books with my son, my students, and my friends. I’m always hoping to be someone’s Mrs. McConnell: to share the perfect book with someone and kick off a lifetime of voracious reading.