There are few fundamental skills in life that are of greater importance than the ability to read and understand the written word. It can take a person of any background as far as they can dream. This is truly evident in the essay, “Superman and Me”, by Sherman Alexie which tells of the author’s struggle growing up poor on a Native American reservation in Washington State. From a young age, his literacy became Alexie’s saving grace, thanks to his father who inspired him to begin reading. This inspiration changed the path of his life.
I, too, was inspired and encouraged at a young age to be a great reader by my Mother and a special teacher. I am thankful to my Mother for starting me on my path to literacy. I grew up in a house full of books, music and loud women. My Mom was never without a book in her hand, my middle sister loved to sing and write poetry and my oldest sister always had her eight tracks blaring. From the time that I was tiny, I wanted to be just like my Mother. She had beautiful hair, perfect makeup, and lovely flowing dresses.
Since I was too young for these things, I latched on to something else that my mother loved; books. Alexie felt much the same way about his Father. Alexie writes, “My father loved books and since I loved my father with an aching devotion, I decided to love books as well” (89). My Mother and I spent many hours roaming the library aisles for our next great read. She encouraged me to try new authors and different genres. I discovered Judy Blume and even attempted Charles Dickens and Louisa Mae Alcott.
My Mom challenged me each summer to read as many books as I could and she was always ready for me to tell her all about them. Mama and I still recommend books to one another and tell each other all about the characters that we meet in between the pages of our latest book. I was fortunate enough to have many fantastic teachers during my school years. One teacher In particular is my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Elizabeth Fleming. I was a twelve year old girl that felt awkward and self-conscience and Mrs. Fleming always found a way to boost my self-confidence.
She made it a point to compliment me every day on anything from how I read aloud in class or what I was wearing or my hair style. Mrs. Fleming’s interest in me built up my self-esteem by leaps and bounds. We also bonded over our mutual love of books. Mrs. Fleming would take the time to ask about a book I was reading and recommend others that she thought I might like. She found ways to let me know that she loved that I was so excited about reading even if it was just a sweet smile that seemed like it was just for me. Mrs. Fleming made me feel special. As an adult, I have, on occasion, run in to Mrs.
Fleming and even after all these years she still remembers me as her little bookworm. I am thankful to have had the support and encouragement throughout my life to keep me reading and learning. It continues today as I show my children how fun and entertaining it can be to read a good book I love to read with my girls and the sound of their voice reading on their own is like music to my ears. As I continue my education I hope that they can see through me that a love of reading can take you anywhere you want to go. So dream big…and go read a book!