Reading: A Life and Goals

This post is a model for my students to consider as they write their first blog entry.

Hello there! I’m Ms. Mayo, I’m a high school English teacher, and (this might come as a surprise) I love to read! I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. When my cousins would ask for the newest Atari game for their birthdays, I requested books–or money so I could buy books! Sometimes that money was spent on the newest 45 (that’s a 45-RPM record…just ask your parents) of “Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera, but more often than not I went in search of the most recent title in The Babysitter’s Club series. I’m still a series fan today–The Hunger GamesThe Selection–and I’ll read one author’s entire catalog–John Green, Rainbow Rowell, & Matthew Quick are a few of my favorites. It’s safe to say that while I might have taken a break from reading for a time (more about that in “A Life in Books”), I’ve rejoined the masses and chosen reading as my number one hobby!

My goal this year is to read 15 books. I’m already reading about an hour a day, thanks to three classes with 20 minutes of independent reading time. I should add about 20 more minutes at night: reading before bed is way better than being on my phone or computer. My “to-read” list is long and ever-growing. I’m trying to decide which non-fiction book to read before the end of October, probably either A Murder Over a Girl by Ken Corbett or Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be by Frank Bruni. I haven’t even thought about the AP titles that I’ll tackle, but I’m pretty sure I won’t read any more Hemingway. Maybe something by Faulkner or Steinbeck. Or maybe I’ll look for something more current by a female author. The possibilities are endless!



A Life in Books

I’ve always been a reader. One of my earliest memories is visiting the upper grades as a kindergartener to read the Christmas story from the Bible. I don’t really remember how all of that came to pass–I just know that I’ve been reading all my life.

As I got older, my love for books continued to grow. I read and reread every S.E. Hinton book in the library. I bought as many Judy Blume books as my allowance would provide. I sped through the Encyclopedia Brown and Sweet Valley High series, craving the predictable patterns they followed as my own little life became somewhat chaotic.

At some point in high school, my focus changed, and I don’t remember reading for enjoyment as much. I read what I was supposed to read, John Steinbeck and others (I’ve somehow forgotten all of those other authors!) but recalled those previous stories to help me find the peace and calm that reading affords.

And then college happened, and reading for fun was no longer an option. As an English major, the required reading increased tenfold, and I longed for the days of The Poky Little Puppy. However, once Dr. Blackmon introduced me to southern fiction, I remembered reading like remembering to ride a bike and dove into the worlds of Ellen Gilchrist and John Kennedy Toole.

When I started teaching, reading took on a different role. It was still required, but I was the one in control of the titles (for the most part). I introduced my students to Harper Lee, Homer, Ray Bradbury, and Shakespeare, and I tried not to take it personally when they didn’t fall in love with the words like I did.

About a year and a half ago, my colleague Donna Friend launched #HebronReads, and I rediscovered that first love of reading. I replaced “Friends” reruns with chapters from Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, Gillian Flynn, and so many more. The library appeared on my iPad, and I could instantly download my next book without leaving my pillow. My old habit has reappeared, and this time, I’ll work hard not to break it.