Yes, I have always loved books but...

After 27 years of life and six years in the classroom, I am still totally stunned by those who don't enjoy reading. Certainly, I understand how difficult and laborious reading can be. We've all been asked to read things which went above our heads (Like my bills sometimes! Adulting is hard!) but we gain something from using the skill which cannot be replaced: independence. 

I realized the independence of reading as a kid. I could entertain myself for hours with a good book. Then as a teenager, I could get myself to libraries all over St. Louis for research projects and new reading material. As a young adult, I could find comfort in bookstores by working in them. And now as an adult, I teach with books for high school students and work in an academic library. Yes, books have always been a constant in my life, even while literacy has taken on a whole new meaning.  

I'll admit I don't read as many books these days as I should. Between teaching, planning, grading, grad-schooling, and working a reference desk, I haven't found much time for leisurely reading. I try. I promise I try (short story collections are my go-to nowadays). While I try so hard to foster in my students a love of reading and an appreciation of literature, teaching has taught me that in order to be a successful member of the 21st century, we have to be literate in so many other ways. When it comes to learning to read people and situations, fiction does a great job. But so do personal essays, memoirs, podcasts, and documentaries. We must also learn to read music and film, advertisements, news stories, political ads, privacy agreements, and so much more. After a couple of years of teaching, it became clear to me that I could be doing more to prepare my students for all of these different kinds of reading. Their independence depends on being able to think critically about the things they read. 

This same sentiment rings true for college students and adults as well. Digital literacy knows no bounds in this ever-changing information age. It is my goal to help all people become lifelong learners and engage with information as critically and independently as possible.