Books have always been very influential in my life. They were a part of me before I could even read – my parents oftentimes read me a story before I went to bed (My mom’s usual selection was either Bellybutton Boy or Never Mail An Elephant. My dad’s favorites to read to me were Harry Potter and Eragon.  Which was why one of my first words was “Hagrid” –  or at least, so my dad claims).  However, the role that reading has played throughout my life has shifted many times throughout my childhood and teenage years.

During Elementary

When I first began to read chapter books, I immersed myself entirely in worlds of fantasy and magic for hours on end.  I was unreachable to the outside world while I read.  That’s how I spent a lot of my free time throughout elementary.  It was a wonderful way to let my mind wander and explore.

This is one of the many reasons that allowed me to be seen by my classmates as kind of an oddball back in the day.  I was the kid that would usually only get in trouble for reading instead of doing homework or listening during class.  I would also gush far too often in monologues that were far too lengthy about a book I was reading to my friends and family.  This was one part of what led to me being called “weird,” “annoying,” and “too much.”  This kind of did damage my self-esteem as a kid, but it never caused my passion for reading to dwindle.

My interest in reading also inspired me to write when I was little.  I wrote stories about a girl who had superpowers and fought bad guys with her superhero team. I wrote “books” about a butterfly and caterpillar who were best friends and worked at the same job as pollen collectors. The caterpillar always ate so many leaves and flowers so that he could be a beautiful butterfly too because he didn’t like being a plain old caterpillar, until the butterfly told him that he was perfect the way he was.  For a Halloween writing project in first grade, I read aloud a story I wrote to my class, which was about a girl and boy in high school who found an abandoned house and decided to explore it.  While they were there, they heard a scream behind them, so they began to race up the stairs.  Little did they know that they were doomed to run up the same stairs for eternity until they died.  They got way more than what they bargained for, and haunted the very house they were intending to go ghost hunting in.  Clearly, my writing style changed all the time.

Junior High

As time went on, my responsibilities naturally grew, which did not allow for the same amount of time or head space for me to read quite as often.  My love for reading never diminished, though.  The books that I read matured as I did, especially around the time I was in junior high.

They opened my mind to perspectives and lives that were very much different than my own.  They made me question different aspects of life and whether various constituents of life were right and wrong.  I got connected to characters that would do questionable things.  These kinds of books helped me realize that the world is very rarely black and white, and just one big, complicated, beautiful grey area.

It also helped me see through the eyes of others and try to understand how different kinds of people live and think.  These new manners of believing and living were a major factor in helping me to be able to distinguish my own values and accept others who were different.

High School (Current)

In the past few years, the frequency of how much I read and the kinds of books I’ve been reading have fluctuated greatly.  I have different stages where I will not read a single book for a couple of months, and I’ll switch dramatically to finishing a book every two days.  Sometimes I’ll even start a book, get disinterested, and start another one, and repeat.  Other times, I will read anything I can get my hands on.  All in all, I still very much love to read, even if I have a lot on my mind.

In the past few months, I’ve been reading less for the sake of entertainment, but more in order to learn about things I’m curious about or passionate for.  Nonfiction and classics and poetry aren’t necessarily the most fun kinds of books to read, but it’s really interesting and exciting to understand more of something I want to know.  I still enjoy getting lost in fictional books about fantasy and sci-fi and superpowers, even if it won’t improve the science section on my ACT score as much.

Reading Has Impacted Me In Ways I’ll Never Fully Grasp

Now, I’m almost certain that I’m going to pursue either a Journalism, Creative Writing, or Communication Arts major (which are all based upon writing).  Reading has caused me to want to turn this passion into a career, starting from when I was a little girl reading Magic Tree House books and writing about superpowers, insecure caterpillars, and haunted houses.

I don’t know who I’d be without reading.  Books have deeply influenced my view of the world.  They have such a unique way of impacting everyone and connecting us all through thoughts and conceptions and stories that have been built upon through centuries.

Books are teachers, entertainers, philosophers, and life-changers. They give everyone an opportunity to expand our minds to fascinating dreams and ideas, which can be utilized to improve the world. Reading is one of the main reasons we’ve gotten this far, and it’s one of the main reasons for where the world has yet to go.

On a much more microscopic scale, books have helped to pave my mind and lead me into my future. Whatever that is.  No matter what happens, I’m grateful for the role that reading has played in my life.