Growing A Reader
by Katie Lawrence
It’s difficult for me to remember when stories were not a vital part of my life. From the time I was a small child, I recognized that the written word had power - to help me understand other times or people, to connect me with others, to allow me to escape the real world for a while. I owe much of this to my parents. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home filled with books where reading was encouraged and frequently discussed.
|Revealing my bookworm nature at a young age|
When I was small, I often would get so engrossed in a book that I would pretend to go to bed, only to sneak out later to read by the hallway night light. On several occasions my parents would find me asleep in the hallway, my nose in a book. Before these “hallway moments”, before my memories of books read aloud by my parents (picture books, classics etc.), one of my first memories of “story” is of my dad. Dad is an excellent storyteller. Has been and always will be. When I was a little girl he often told me stories about Katie O’Lawrence and her magical popsicle. The Katie in the stories often went on magical Irish-inspired adventures where her popsicle frequently aided her and she always returned home to her parents. I loved that “story-Katie” and begged Dad to tell me stories about her over and over again. Those stories were personal. They made me feel connected to my Dad as well as to the literary world in a new way. A story could teach me things about myself and was something that could change depending on the storyteller, or where I was in life. I love thinking about those stories and my Dad’s delightful leprechaun-esque lilt as he told them. What wonderful memories!
|Katie and her Dad... maybe he's telling a Katie O'Lawrence story!|
|Katie reading with her grandmother, Nana|
|Me as a little kid. Not sure why I have a sombrero haha.|
There are so many more moments I could have selected, moments where reading revealed parts of myself, connected me to others, enlarged the world. To me, reading is vital. I feel so fortunate that I have a career where I can help ignite the joy of reading in my students on a day to day basis.
Katie has been a teacher librarian for five years. She worked in Chicago schools for four years and she was very involved with the Illinois Bluestem Award steering committee. Currently she works at a K-4 elementary school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As a lifelong bookworm, she feels it is a privilege to share her love of reading with her students and staff everyday. She is an active trivia team member, a flailing Zumba aficionado, reviews books for the Library Journal and is a huge fan of her coworkers Kurt Stroh and Carrie Davies. Katie will appear on the 2016 ALSC ballot as a candidate for the 2018 Newbery Award (she still can’t believe she’s writing these words). If you are a member of the ALA and the ALSC please consider voting for her! You can follow her on Twitter at @lawrenka.