For those who knew me in grade school, you might remember that I hated to read. I could not stand wasting the time it took to sit around and force myself to take in words on a page. I was an active nine year old, always playing outside with my younger sister, often climbing trees, riding bikes, stealing raspberries from our landlords patch, trying not get caught sneaking into the crotchety old man’s yard next door. Reading – psh!
This all changed when I was in fourth grade. In elementary school, at least where I am from, there was a program called Book-It.
I bet there’s an app for this now.
How it worked was quite simple. You read a certain number of books a month and you earned pizza. The exact details of the program escape me right now, but I think the official rules have changed since I was nine.
The best math equation I learned in all of my schooling.
It was supposed to be a voluntary program, by the way, but apparently that did not apply in Mrs. Stenke’s fourth grade class. When it came time for Book-It , I was dead set against it. As I said, I was way too busy doing other, more important, nine-year-old things. Mrs. Stenke, however, would have none of my resistance. So, naturally, I did what any kid would do. I told my mom.
Now, I did not get out of doing Book-It. My mom and Mrs. Stenke did, however, reach a compromise. While everyone else in the class was forced to read at least three books a month, I only had to read one! It was so awesome! Everyone else was so jealous of me. I distinctly remember being heavily taunted for telling my mom, so I guess telling my mom was not what any other kid would have done, by the way.
It started slowly, but eventually, I found a book series that I enjoyed reading so much, I kept going back to read the next book in the series. In fifth grade, I read all the Nancy Drew books our library had. In sixth grade, I read every Sweet Valley High and then Sweet Valley University book at the local in-town library. In high school, I would hold my text book up as if I were reading it, and would secretly be reading a novel, instead. (I got caught doing that quite a bit, actually.)
For most who know me now, it is a common fact that I love to read. I have two bookshelves in my home, and I still do not have enough room for all of my books. I have reread many of the books on my shelves multiple times, and lovingly dog-ear my pages. There is nothing quite like the feel of a book in my hand.
And I have Mrs. Stenke to thank, because, if she had allowed me to get out of doing Book-It completely, I never would have developed the love of reading that I have today.
So, THANK YOU MRS. STENKE, wherever you are, for forcing me to read, and for the life-long love that developed!
I love you, books! Never leave me!