BOOK RIOT

What Cultivated My Early Love for Reading

Outdoor portrait of student black boy using a tactile tablet - African people

When I think back to what spurred my undying love for reading, I can date it to back to a couple of things: my introduction to Harry Potter, my desire to someday write a journal juicy enough to be included in the Dear Diary series, and the reading program at my elementary school.

So, I’m going to do something rare and actually reminisce on my grade school days. They came with awful, garish hair bows and equally poor fashion choices, but they also cultivated a lifelong thirst for the written word.

If you didn’t have Read N Feeds, or some sort of equivalent, I genuinely feel sorry for your childhood. Imagine a whole afternoon in a cozy gym surrounded by your pals, a pile of books, an ice cold pop, and a personal bag of popcorn. Is this heaven? No, it’s (All Saints Elementary School in Cedar Rapids) Iowa. Go Bruins.

I would cherish these days more than recess, early dismissals, or the many times we spent playing BINGO with our school families. Since it’s been quite a while, my memory’s kind of hazy, and I can’t quite remember how often we had these afternoons of reading bliss…I waaaaant to say one a quarter? But, they were my favorite days of the year, so thank you, All Saints for that.

In between the glorious Read N Feeds, we had the Accelerated Reader program to take advantage of. Basically, some books in the library were special “AR” books. After you finished, you could take a comprehension test and if you passed you got a certain number of points. Points were exchanged for a “Jean Certificate” and let me tell you as a Catholic school uniform survivor, these babies were like Wonka’s Golden Ticket. If you hit a special threshold, you were treated to a pizza party. And anyone who’s had Paul Revere’s pizza and breadsticks knows that this was much better than the hot ham and cheese on the regular menu.

I’d like to send some good vibes out there to All Saints and all the wonderful teachers I had. Thank you for instilling in me a great appreciation for books and putting up with me showing up every morning to take an AR test…and for creating my pop and popcorn addiction, but mostly the book thing.