5.19.2007

Sibling Assignment #21: Our Love for Reading and Writing


My brother’s friend has read all three of our blogs. Last week she asked him a question.
“ What (or who) instilled in the three of you the love for reading and writing?” That became our sibling assignment for the week. You will find Silver Valley Girl's here. Raymond Pert's is here.Mom was here visiting earlier in the week so I posed the question to her. She thought for awhile then listed many examples of how reading and writing were brought into my life from a very early age.

Grandma Woolum was very instrumental in laying the foundation for our love for the written word. She had gone to school to become a teacher and taught a year in Kentucky before heading out west. It was her strong belief that all children should read and be read to. I still have books she gave us as gifts on birthdays and Christmas. She also brought books home to us after going on trips. When our family was still living up on E. Portland I have strong memories of reading The Cat in The Hat, One Fish Two Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham. Grandma got us the subscription to the “I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Book” series. I know we would get excited when a box with new books would come in the mail.

My dad was relieved because he wouldn’t have to read The Fly Went By another 10 times to me. (That was the first book I learned to read.) Ninety-sixty-two was a banner year for books from Grandma. I have The Hole Book by Peter Newell that she gave to my brother and I. It is a story of a shot that goes all the way through the book with a hole in the middle of each page. At Christmas she gave me The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell. It has always been a holiday favorite. At this early age my writing consisted mostly of letters and notes. I saw lots of writing modeled for me, especially when I went to school with Mom and spent time in her classroom. Reading and writing were activities I looked forward to doing.

Good reading models were also important. I had exceptional teachers in elementary school that shared a love for reading and writing. I can still remember books that were read aloud to me after lunch each day. In kindergarten Mrs. P. introduced us to Mother Goose and nursery rhymes, and traditional children’s songs. Mrs. D. read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. She also introduced us to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Mrs. T. started my love for poetry by having us memorize a poem a month. I can still remember the words to “When the Frost is on the Punkin”, “Oh Captain, My Captain”, and “Barefoot Boy”. That year we also wrote poems for Halloween and stories about a Trip Down the Amazon. These models continued to build my love for reading and writing.

The other strong reading model was my dad. He loved to read. When he arrived home after work he read the newspaper page by page. He pored over the sport page and also read magazines and books about different sports. He was thirsty for knowledge and guided us to the encyclopedias and the dictionary to learn facts when we had a question.

Having access to books made a huge difference. We got library cards when we were old enough to sign our names to the cards. At school I loved to order from Lucky and then Arrow Book Club. I couldn’t wait until the new flier came out and I could scan the pages of new books. We also had shelves of books at home. I still love to curl up with a good book and share book titles with other avid readers. My students keep me up on new young adult books.

When it came to writing I wrote letters, reports, some poetry, and a column in the high school newspaper. That is when my creative side emerged. Mom then let me write some of the family Christmas letters. Later I wrote articles for the local paper. As I moved through college and began teaching I began to love writing, but I never made time for it.

Now I make time for reading and writing. After studying literacy education for my Master’s degree I saw the value in the written word. It comes as no surprise that you become better at reading and writing by doing it. I began to really do it! I continued to help my students by being a model just like my family members and teachers had done with me. In recent years I have had the privilege of participating in workshops with published writers. Through these I have learned more about the craft of writing and have passed that learning on to other writers and teachers in workshops I have done.

Through this whole process I realized I had stories I wanted to tell. At first the stories were for me privately. Then they became humorous Christmas letters that relayed the past years’ activities. As I have matured in my writing life, I am now willing to share the stories that have shaped my life. In writing memoir I now see past events through new eyes. It also helps me connect those past events with my life today and make some sense of it all.

5 comments :

  1. Stephen King's book as excellent! I have used "On Writing" in my Honors English classes ever since a former student told me I needed to read it. I spent a flight from Boston to Portland, OR devouring it and have shared it with students ever since. The also thoroughly enjoy it.

    I enjoyed reading about your love for reading and writing. I totally relate to your hesitancy to share your stories with others. It does take a certain something to open yourself up to others... Blogging has helped me do this as much as small writing groups.

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  2. Rondi- I agree about the Steven King book. I may need to reread it this summer! Blogging has really helped me also. Through the University of Idaho and the Northwest Inland Writing Project we do a reading/writing retreat coming up in June. We have it at the field campus so it is like "going to camp". It started out as mostly teachers, but last year we had theater people, public librarians, and a seventy year old woman that wanted help with her memoirs. I can't wait for that.

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  3. That sounds like a lot of fun...

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  4. I absolutely adore this post!
    Thank you for sharing this love and history.
    What beautiful writing.

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  5. thanks Tori. I was glad I we had the assignment so I could reflect on the process.

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