I do not remember a time when I did not love reading. My mother was an avid reader and went to great lengths to imprint the love of reading onto my brother and me. No matter how busy she was she always took time out to sit down and read a story. When I was first learning to read on my own, my mother would work with me after I got home from school. We would sit in our green front porch swing and practice sounding out words. It was in that front porch swing that I read my first book, Birthday Buddies. I remember feeling so proud of my accomplishment. Once I tackled Birthday Buddies, I progressed quickly and read as often as I could. Reading quickly became an important part of my life, acting as the foundation for many experiences and memories.
Through life’s ups and downs, books were always my faithful and constant friends. When I wanted to escape from the downs, such as my parents divorce or the bullying and teasing I endured in the third grade, because of a really, really bad hair cut, I would simply bury my mind in a favorite book - instantly join another world – and be released from the stresses of this one. In addition, I wasn’t a very athletic child; therefore, I never got to be part of a sports team like many other kids. I never did participate in gymnastics, dance or cheer leading. Even though, I secretly wished I could. Reading therefore, gave me the chance to vicariously join the ranks of such athletic exercises through the characters lives and experiences. Reading was connected to my ups as well. When I was nine my mom enrolled me in piano lessons. Every Thursday night from seven to seven thirty I would go to my teacher’s house and practice my weekly piano pieces. Afterward, I got to visit my local public library and check out books. I loved those weekly library visits. I remember them fondly – the libraries “book” smell and my favorite stories; the well worn copies of Goosebumps, Babysitters Club, Dealing with Dragons and the Bunnicula Series. These favorite stories became part of my identity fostering creativity, imagination and even if I did not recognize it immediately, an innate understanding of the writing craft and all its rhetorical glory.
However, not all my reading memories are necessarily positive. With my nose consistently being stuck in a book, I sometimes got myself into trouble. One particular occurrence was the day I tried to mix reading and fishing. In my family, fishing was not just a hobby, but a very important and serious past-time. My step-dad would always find an excuse to take the family fishing, no matter how much we groaned and complained. It was on one of these fishing trips that my love of reading got me into big trouble.
On that particular fishing trip, I decided to try my luck at catching a catfish. Now, this was not because I like catfish or even because I was trying to build my fishing skills. No, I chose to fish for a catfish because I knew all I had to do was put a piece of stinky bate on my hook, throw it to the bottom of the lake and wait. During this waiting, I knew I could conveniently stick my nose in a book and enjoy the day - my way. However, I soon became so absorbed in my book that I failed to periodically look up and check my pole. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of my pole flying over the side of the boat. In the middle of my book adventure, I had actually caught a fish. Thankfully, my nephew caught the end of the pole before it sank to the bottom of the lake. Despite the pole being saved, I got a stern lecture from my step-dad and decided it was in my best interest to wait until I got home to finish my book.
In a natural progression, my love of reading influenced my enjoyment of writing. While in high school I had big aspirations of being a famous author. I would sit for hours at my families centrally located desk top computer and type my “masterpieces.” Despite my “masterpieces” remaining unpublished, I look at my laborious hours of typing as nonetheless important writing practice. Practice using my imagination, practice constructing sentences and correct usage of grammar. My favorite books influenced my need to write and want to compose and give others the enjoyment I felt when reading them.
I am incredibly thankful that my mother passed on the love of reading to me. Reading has shaped many experiences and memories in my life. With a love of reading I had an initial foundation to build upon and grow in appreciation and understanding of the writing process. Now, as a mom myself I have worked hard to pass down the love of reading to my children. I read to them every chance I have. I hope that when they are ready to read on their own I can pull out my copy of Birthday Buddies (yes I still have it) and it can be their first book too.
My name is Kristin Bradley. I am a photographer, designer, writer, avid reader, mother and constant artistic dabbler. This blog contains samples of my writing.