Literary · Personal

Fictional and Non-Fictional Reading Role Models

Hello!

I’m a reader and recently I picked up 11 books from my local library. The feeling of holding all of those books in my arms made me really start to ponder about how I started reading and what really helped nurture my love of stories.

Throughout my life, I’ve met wonderful librarians whose love of reading radiates off of them in huge and, powerful yet gentle waves. Librarians who noticed my love of reading and encouraged it by recommending books to me and making the library a place where I was always welcomed.

Throughout K-12, the library was my little hide-out. It was where I felt safe, and where anything could happen. In a library, thousands of lives are lived. You can always find a friend within the covers of a book and someone who you can relate to. Books have always had the ability to make me laugh out loud, cry, whimper, gasp, shake with anger, and jump out of my skin.

My parents have always fostered a love for reading in me. By encouraging me to read, praising me, and making the seemingly endless trips to the public library to pick out new books they sent a really powerful message.

Teachers have guided me through the tougher books, and been the source of countless book recommendations. They have been the reason why books like The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton, The Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee are some of my favorite books. The Man Who Was Thursday is not a wildly known book, it’s a strange one and without Professor Nav. I may never have heard of it and would never have known of a book with so many different interpretations and readings. Without my 12th grade English teacher, I may never have learned to appreciate The Catcher In The Rye. 

Perhaps though, some of the best role models in my life have been fictional. Recently, I was asked what my favorite book was and without hesitation I said Matilda by Roald Dahl. Then I started freaking out, because I’m almost nineteen years old and I just told a cute guy that my favorite book was a children’s book and my gosh how unsophisticated I must now look to him. Between freak outs, I began to really think and rationalize things. Matilda is my favorite book because it’s had a huge impact on me growing up.

In elementary school, reading wasn’t seen as “the cool” thing to do, especially not at the volume I did it. When I came across Matilda, everything changed. Finally, I was reading a book about a girl who also read every book she could get her hands on! Not only that but she was so cool! Everyone liked her at school, she had friends and although her family found her to be an oddball, she was like a hero to the other kids in her class. Reading and rereading this book, really helped raise my confidence and showed me that reading was cool. I stopped trying to hide how much I read, and stopped being incredibly embarrassed when someone brought it up. Most importantly, I stopped thinking that I was the weird one.

This was all well and good for elementary school. But middle and high school are a completely different ballpark and we never learn how Matilda handles those years. Middle school started for me and the very first day I realized that everything was different. I was never popular in elementary school but that didn’t matter because I was secure with who I was. Right off the bat though, I learned that it was not okay to be the quiet, shy, book-loving girl in middle school. I wasn’t picked on but the kids I was friends with the year before who weren’t readers suddenly weren’t keen on being around me. Matilda had not prepared me for this.

The show, Gilmore Girls, helped me deal with things. I don’t remember how exactly I was introduced to Gilmore Girls but I was and the show provided me with my newest role model, Rory Gilmore. In season one, Rory is just turning sixteen. She’s quiet, shy, awkward, smart, and a huge book lover like me. She didn’t have a lot of friends, really just the one, but she had a great relationship with her mom. I saw a lot of myself in her, and I still do. Although I didn’t have any tall, dark, and handsome boys watching me read( 😉 ). I was still able to relate and of course, being the dreamer that I am, the fact that boys were interested in her gave me hope. Watching the show really started to steer me towards my goals:

  • Read as many books as humanly possible
  • Get really good grades
  • Go to college
  • and get an amazing job!

Like Rory(and many other successful women), sometimes a boy gets in the way. But like in the show, the boys are never the point and they will come and go as they see fit, feelings be damned.

Who are your reading role models? How have they helped you? Let me know! I’m curious!

~K.D.

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