Tag Archives: JK Rowling

Lumos

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Graduate school has started back up for me. I have been studying my own reading and writing history so that I can find and analyze implications of said history in my teaching. I know it has been a while (two years?!) since I have posted, but I have really been thinking about bringing this short lived blog back! If you don’t know already, I am an avid reader. AVID. Possibly borderline obsessive. Probably borderline obsessive, actually. I have made a goal for myself this year to read 24 books which I intend to talk about on this blog to keep myself accountable. Right now I am reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling and Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. Both so far are excellent and I would recommend! However, I am not done with either so take that recommendation how you will.

I recently wrote about how Harry Potter changed my life in a graduate assignment and I thought I would share some of that here, since I don’t actually have a book to rant or rave on:

             Some people read, some people write, some do both, but I just read. Reading has always been my passion and world. Thus explaining my decision to eventually become an English teacher. I have had moments in my life this far involving books at the pinnacle of shaping who I am personally and professionally.
             My journey began when I entered first grade. I was already a reader, or so I have been told. However, I struggled this first year at school. I was always getting into trouble and consistently had parent-teacher conferences within the first few months. I would tote around my Arthur and Magic Treehouse series books in my backpack to bring out at recess to read. However, at one of these parent-teacher conferences, my first grade teacher attempted to convince my mother that I needed to be enrolled in the D-1, “developmental first” grade class. In essence, this class was a remedial first grade class, intended for students who were in kindergarten, who were “not ready” for true first grade yet. This baffled my mother. How could her child, who was reading chapter books in first grade, need to be moved into the “D1” class? Well, long answer short and after much testing, I was moved into an advanced reading workshop during reading time from my first grade classroom. “Testing” proved that I was simply bored. This was the first real push that I gained towards enjoying and becoming wholly obsessed with reading.
             All throughout elementary school, I went about reading all of the Little House on the Prairie books. I had hit true misery when I finished that series and realized that I needed to find something new. This was daunting task because, what I now realize, I am captivated by books in a series especially books that I deem “good.” Here enters the Harry Potter series.
             I can single-handedly say the Harry Potter series changed my life and projected my future path to where I am today. In my earlier years, this series would be to blame for my staying up too late, getting grounded, and detentions. I could not put these books down. I imagined myself in the world of Hogwarts, trailing behind Ron, Hermione, and Harry down the giant halls into the Gryffindor common room. I obviously was a Gryffindor. Here, I truly learned to visualize a story and to teleport (or take the Floo Network) into a story as if I were a character there. My glittering imagination allowed me to enter a world of paradise, thrill, and friendship.
             However, venturing into my adult years, Harry Potter has taken a significantly different meaning. This series turned into a “safe place” of sorts for me. I learned how to deal with and work through my emotions and trials through passages and quotes written by J.K Rowling such as, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
I learned to navigate friendships that were at times tough and strained, “Those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.”
 I finally came to understand the limitless bounds of a parent’s love, “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”
I am overcoming the grief of loss and death of a close friend through the profound weight and wisdom of the words, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
             I am still finding new ways that my literacy history impacts and lingers upon my students. The first and foremost being my passion for helping students find that “just right” book or series to fall spellbound by. This is shown in my extensive classroom library and amazon tax receipts of books I just have to purchase for that one kid I know will love. I hope that my passion in unpacking and grappling with a short story or novel is as evident to my students as I feel in the moments I am teaching it.  I know that my history with literacy and reading with continue to impact my students in a way that hopefully draws them closer to finding their passion for reading, even if it’s just that one book.

 

Do any of you have that one book or series that changed your life or was super impactful? I would love to hear about it!

-Stephanie

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Simplicity

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“Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?

Are we talking about anyone specific?

[Charlie nods]

We accept the love we think we deserve.

Can we make them know they deserve more?

We can try.”

–Stephen Chbosky The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I recently paid homage to one of my favorite new(ish) young adult literature novels at the wedding of my husband and I. I, obviously, am a sucker for good, emotional quotes.  Ever since I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I have had a really difficult time clearing the novel from my mind. So many of the words resonate deeply within me. Therefore, I find myself returning to what I really feel is a true representation of art.  The writing is brilliant and the themes, unfortunately, ring so true with the teens of this day and age. Authors JK Rowling and John Green have such marvelous and uncanny abilities to relate to the mindset of young adults, tying in difficult and relevant themes that not only allow for great entertainment but also lends clarity for young minds struggling with adolescence and who are diving deeply into their literature.

Stephen Chbosky has this same rich ability. Chbosky develops characters that are real and transparent. Characters that foster the same personas as friends I could have had in high school. Personally my favorite is not even “technically” considered a main character, but he is simple and honest. His transparency allows for a slight flicker of hope to be placed into Charlie, a freshman in high school attempting to overcome an arduous inner struggle.  Mr. Anderson, Bill, never becomes more than Mr. Anderson. He simply is a compassionate teacher who gives out good books and good advice.  This compassion and simplicity leaves a meaningful legacy onto Charlie that I crave in teaching.

As romanticized of a teacher Mr. Anderson is in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I truly hope that one day I will have such a meaningful and intense impact on one of my student’s lives as he had with Charlie.

Just one student.

I think this profoundness is what drives me deeper into my passion for students. I am not saying I am trying to be a lifesaver, to vastly alter the paths that some troubled students are walking along, or to be some sort of life-long influence in the future of a student.  I simply want to exist as a constant positive in a student’s life, and sometimes give out novels that left a lasting effect on me to students that seem in need of some extra care.

I know I cannot force my students to love literature as much as I do.

I know I cannot force students to have such life altering experiences from novels as I have had.

But as a teacher-and simply a caring teacher- I hope I can be a ray of hope in some student’s life, even if I never know the influence I had on anyone. All I can ever hope for is my wisdom, compassion, or advice to live on as my legacy.

Until next time,

Stephanie

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