I can’t remember a time when reading was not an important part of my life. My mom read to my brother and I every night before we went to bed, and as we got older we started rotating who did the reading. I always wanted to read Cat and the Hat; John preferred Bernstein Bears.
Eventually the group reading was replaced by visits to the library, where John and I got to pick out our own books. It was on one of these visits that we discovered the library’s summer reading program. They gave us worksheets with images of open books, and for every page we read, we got to color a page. After you read so many pages, you were eligible for a prize.
I don’t remember what the prize was, but I remember figuring out that I needed to read 21 pages a day to get it. I read every Babysitter’s Club and Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on that summer. The funny thing is I managed to lose the worksheets and never submitted them to the library – I got so involved with the stories that I forgot why I started reading them.
My love affair with reading never ended – to this day I’m guilty of staying up way too late when the plot’s good. The only thing I found to love more than reading was writing. I had a wonderful first-grade teacher, Ms. Frank, who had us write our own books. (I found a few of them when I moved from Texas to California, including, “The Talking Rug” and “When You’re Feeling Lonely Find a B-E-A-R Bear.”)
Unlike many of my peers, beyond the books in first grade and a couple of poems in high school, my interest in writing was never creative. For me, the thrill has always been in finding the best words to make an idea crystal clear. At heart, I’m an editor, and this has led me to various technical writing and copy editing jobs, as well as a BA and an MA in literature.
After finishing the MA, I started teaching an online composition course and found a whole new reason to love writing. Today, I’m at UC Davis pursuing my PhD in Education with an emphasis on writing. Specifically, I’m looking at how technology affects the way we teach and learn to write, and at ways to effectively teach writing in online environments. I’m interested in college-level writers and adult learners, and I’m increasingly fascinated with the cognitive processes required for digital literacy.
That said, most days I just feel like a kid who started reading 21 pages a day, got hooked on the story, and can’t put the book down.