Know Thyself, Reader

ShelfieMarch2015On the plane home from NCTE last November, I read many of the pieces on written by some of my favorite authors in Open A World of Possible: Real stories about the joy and power of reading. There are so many good reading stories by authors whose work I love, like the one on page 138 by Lester Laminack. The book includes authors whose work has mentored my professional growth like Kyleen Beers, Nancie Atwell, and Lucy Caulkins. But this post is a reflection on the story of a person I know largely through her twitter posts

But this post is a reflection on Franki Sibberson’s story. Hers is a list of things she knows about herself as a reader. She wrote it when she asked her fourth and fifth-grade students to turn over their reading interview forms and write 100 things they knew about themselves as readers. Her list is fun, and I saw myself in it in many places. I decided on that plane ride to take a shot at it too. I didn’t think I would get very far.  After NCTE I felt like I paled in comparison to many of the amazing readers I heard speak, met and observed over at the #nerdybookclub mixer. Those folks READ with a capital LITERACY! Truth is I love to read, but I didn’t read as a kid – not until high school when I discovered Chronicles of Narnia one summer and had absolutely nothing else to do. So, thank you Franki Sibberson, for the idea, and the challenge.

Here’s the beginning of my 100 things I now realize about myself as a reader. I’m going to enjoy adding things to this list as I continue to grow into my reading life.

100 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT MYSELF AS A READER  (30 or so to start!)

1. I like to read fiction that I can’t put down, but I don’t find those kinds of books very often.  Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden was one of these books for me. Suggestions welcome.

2.  I have several stacks of books I want to read always waiting.

3.  I love to order new books.

4.  I am in awe of published authors.

5.  I love a book that is well written, and by this I mean where the words are masterfully put together to communicate information or tell a story. Think Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose.

6.   My current bookcase is organized by the color of the books spines.

7.   I love children’s picture books but without a classroom I actively look for people with kids to share them with.

8.   I have a hard time remembering the titles of books I’ve read. I like the Good Reads app for this reason, but I need to update mine.

9.    I am more apt to finish a book if it has been recommended by a friend.

10.  Most of my informational reading is for work.

11.  I read a lot of texts, emails, tweets and Facebook posts every day.

12.  My idea about what to read expanded a lot this summer when I went to TCRWP. I began to consider different types of texts and to think more about media as text. A speech by author and educator, David Booth, opened up ideas about what the word text means today.

12.   I love to read historical fiction and science fiction.

13.  Most of my pleasure reading is realistic fiction.

14.  I enjoy new non-fiction books that expand my understanding of the world like Blink, Mindset, etc. But sometimes I feel like I don’t need to read them cover to cover to get the message. I tend to skip over many of the examples.

15.  When I read non-fiction, I will often start at the back, or with the table of contents after reading the cover and any publishing information.

16.  I like to read current books more than older ones.

17.   If I like the first book in a series, I will start the next one right away.

18.   I usually need a little break between stories that have grabbed me. I need to live in the world that an author has created for me, lingering with the characters for a while before I can move on.

19.  When I am into a book, I often see the world through the lens of that book as I go through my day. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley was like this for me.

2. I wish I had read more as a child. I do not remember learning to read. I do not remember first books until I read The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe and then the rest of the series in High School.

22. I have a hard time picturing the setting for books set in places I haven’t been to like European countries or middle east countries. Sometimes I just skip over setting information and I have learned that this hurts my understanding of the rest of the story. This was true with the Divergent series as well as the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series.

23. I have learned to love books in my adult life and to know the power of books to change and shape my world again and again.

24. I don’t like graphic novels yet, but I think I should be willing to try again.  A colleague gave me El Deafo by Cece Bell. I’m going to try with this one.

25. I didn’t think I was going to like books written in prose, but after Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, my mind was forever changed. Now I actively look for books written this way. I’m currently reveling in Jaqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming.

26. I didn’t think I would like books written in letters, but after reading Regarding The Fountain by Kate Klise, my mind was changed on this too. I think it is brilliant for an author to write in this way.

27. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watts, Knuffle Bunny and Elephant & Piggie both by Mo Willems are my current favorite picture book characters.

28. I love YA literature and I will read it regardless of the fact that it’s for YA and not written for my demographic. I think the themes and stories explored are eternal, and they’re just fun, compelling and easy. Sometimes they make me cry.

29. I’m puzzled about the Diana Gabaldon books that everyone in my book club loved, but I didn’t. Now they’re a TV series. I feel like I should give them another try. I love her posts on Facebook. She recently showed pictures of her library and how it changes when she’s working on a project.

30. I used to love to read magazines, but in the past few years they sit unopened even. I think my internet reading has hurt my magazine reading.

31. I haven’t always seen myself as a reader. I don’t consider myself to be “well-read”. I did love Kahlil Gibran, and recently got my daughter started on Camus. Does that count?

32. I don’t like to read directions on how to put something new together or use technology, but I will if I am really motivated to use something new or unfamiliar.

33. I still buy children’s books I love and read them aloud to friends or my teenage children when they come over. They indulge me. My daughter said, “Mom, I love that you still buy picture books.” The most recent is LesmoreThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mister Morris Lessmore by William Joyce.  It’s so cool to use with the app that makes the pages live!

34.  I have begun to read a lot of blogs. They are opening a whole new world of good things to read.



About Be Strong. Be Courageous. Be You

Principal at the School at the north end of Los Angeles Harbor where AWESOME happens. Working to make the world a little more wonder-full.
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8 Responses to Know Thyself, Reader

  1. This is such a wonderful idea, Dayna! I might have to steal it from you and Franki. I find that my reading life has changed over the past few years because of blogs, Twitter, etc. I know I learn so much from this reading, but I feel like I don’t read as many books for pleasure. So hard to find a balance!


  2. Keeping this list and adding to it is an awesome idea! I think I will start one -I’m not sure I could get to 100 though! Children’s picture books are my favorite!


  3. Glenda Funk says:

    This is one of my favorite blog posts in the SOL15 story challenge. I love the list idea; I can see myself using this w/ my students maybe at the end of the year or next year or maybe during our poetry unit. I’m marking this post and your blog; I don’t want to miss other treasures. BTW, a wonderful graphic novel, not in the GN traditional sense, is “The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt.”


    • What a beautiful compliment, colleague. This was such a fun blog post to write. I started it back in November on the plane and didn’t finish it until yesterday. I was surprised how I have evolved as a reader even since November. It would be fun to do this with students.


    • daywells says:

      Glenda, Isn’t it a great idea. I’d love to see how students respond to this challenge. I intend to keep adding to my list of things I know about myself as a reader… Already it had changed from November to March


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