25 June 2011

My Life as a Reader, Teen Edition

Thanks to Dana Huff for her nostalgic look at her own teen reading habits on her blog today. We both read some wild stuff as teens. Though I was already a reader by then, it was high school that cemented my identity as a lifelong devotee of reading, and in considering my choices so many years ago, I realize that reader-me was my first proof  that teacher-me was spot on about my commitment to independent reading with my British Lit students. MY choices, MY reading, MY judgments: that's the progression I followed that led me to my very happy life as a reader today. I do not want to eliminate reading as a class, ever, for there is much learning to do together.  But if I do not enrich whole class reading with independent reading, my students will not have the tools to choose good books, make self conscious judgements, about them, or (and here's the life skill I teach to) solve problems--book related and not--throughout their lives. I provide my response to Dana below, where I remembered what was so delicious about the books I chose for myself. I read all the time, and so did my friends. It was fun.

"I was older than you, so it was Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt for me. Clever, rebellious heroine sheds the shackles of gender and class to begin the adventure of her life. There was always a romance, but usually the best part of the story was the setting: sometimes historical era, sometimes location. From Mary Stewart, I remember Nine Coaches Waiting, My Brother Michael, The Moon-Spinners, Airs Above the Ground, This Rough Magic,  and The Gabriel Hounds. It did not hurt that she also fed my nascent addiction for King Arthur with her Crystal Cave series about Merlin. But The Gabriel Hounds was my all-time fave, for it was set in the Middle East (this was the 1960s!), so it was exotic and dangerous. I was a 14-year-old girl with a vivid imagination going to an all-girl catholic high school. I needed exotic. I recently found a hardback copy of the book in a flea market, and brought it home to reread. Still great. My daughters shook their heads. What is most significant now that I look back on my adolescent obsession with mystery, romance and period pieces? I made my first metacognitive judgment as a reader in deciding that Mary Stewart was a better writer than Victoria Holt. I did not ask my English teacher, whom I adored, if I was right. It did not occur to me. I had the confidence to decide, and I did. Gotta go read...

1 comment:

Knighton said...

I discovered Mary Stewart as an adult, but I read Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney as a teen through my mother and my grandmother. Like you, I enjoyed the mysteries and period pieces of the first two authors' books, and I loved the mystery of Whitney's books. I still love them! I hadn't heard of some of the titles you shared, so I'll have to check them out.