"From Resentment to Respect: My Revelation on Reading"
College Writing 1, Dr. Jordan Canzonetta
In life, we constantly see ourselves as our weaknesses. In my academic career, I always thought of myself as a terrible reader who had to run when everyone else walked. While writing this piece, the memories of where I began practically wrote themselves. However, only when reflecting on my current state of literacy did I realize my tremendous growth. Today, I know not to see myself as my weakness, but rather the product of growth.
Excerpt from "From Resentment to Respect: My Revelation on Reading"
“Outside of the main gym, I waited for my turn to arrive. Because of the curse of the last name “Yerkes,” I had to wait for the entire class to read to you before I had my shot. One by one, I would watch each student get up, go to you, and read as fast as they could. Rachel, the girl who read the entire Harry Potter series and boasted it like it was everyone’s business, finished the whole story before the time beeped signaling the end of the reading session. After what seemed like an eternity, I dragged myself to your desk. Trying really hard to flash through the whole story, my brain felt like it was racing at one hundred miles an hour. At the beep, your accepting smile reminded me that finishing only one eighth of the page was nothing to shame myself for. Needless to say, I still had to attend your reading classes.”
From Resentment to Respect: My Revelation on Reading
by Michael Yerkes
I wish I loved to shop at Barnes & Noble! The chill vibes of aisle upon aisle of literary masterpieces and of course the artistic vibe of a Starbucks always made me jealous of avid readers. To this day, I love venturing to the store with my bookworm sister; however, I always end up in the vinyl area, Funko section, or at Starbucks. At Barnes & Noble, I do not belong even though I wish I did.
Although I claim not to love reading in my spare time, my life has changed drastically because of reading. From age eight to age eighteen, reading and I developed a complex relationship. Through a series of three thank you letters to three English teachers of mine from the past, I will explore how my view on reading has changed. Reading has saved me from falling into the trap of many problems I see in the world today. However, we must explore my yesterdays in order to understand my today.
With great excitement,
Dear Mrs. Crawford,
Sitting at the small group reading table in the square room at the end of the main hallway, I literally felt like the hare when reading “The Tortoise and The Hare”. My fourth-grade self felt dumb when comparing myself to the other students who stayed in regular class. I had to leave my friends and walk to you three times a week. My slow reading pace seemed like a gigantic problem to my mom, other teachers, and everyone besides me. You and I both clearly knew that I hated to read.
Outside of the main gym, I waited for my turn to arrive. Because of the curse of the last name “Yerkes”, I had to wait for the entire class to read to you before I had my shot. One by one, I would watch each student get up, go to you, and read as fast as they could. Rachel, the girl who read the entire Harry Potter series and boasted it like it was everyone’s business, finished the whole story before the time beeped signaling the end of the reading session. After what seemed like an eternity, I dragged myself to your desk. Trying really hard to flash through the whole story, my brain felt like it was racing at one hundred miles an hour. At the beep, your accepting smile reminded me that finishing only one eighth of the page was nothing to shame myself for. Needless to say, I still had to attend your reading classes.
As much as I had a special hatred for your part in the reading testing day, I never hated you. Your positive attitude and optimism kept me from throwing the books you made me read to the other side of the classroom. Slowly but surely with your constant help, I improved my reading speed. Even though I felt like reading was the enemy, I could speed through this enemy a little bit quicker after four years in your class. I still remember my last day in your class when you revealed my progress to me. I felt over-joyed because no longer did I feel exiled from my regular class.
Today, I want to say thank you. Ten years ago, reading may have been my enemy, but we no longer bicker like we used to. Like a house, foundation is essential. In your reading classroom, I built my foundation for a strong sense of literacy. It may not have been easy, but I thank you for teaching me a skill I rely on every day.
Dear Ms. Cipriani,
You had a tough job when having to take my repulsive taste for reading in my primary days and transform it to something I could possibly tolerate in middle school. Entering your second-floor classroom, the ghosts of timed readings past haunted me. However rather than focusing on the speed of reading words, you focused on my ability to put myself in the shoes of another.
Reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park and Lyddie by Katherine Paterson revealed to me the depth behind reading. At the time, I will admit they both seemed like snoozers. Both complex with meaning and focusing in environments foreign to an American Midwest middle schooler, they both failed to make my favorites list. However, for that very reason, I am thankful for those two books today. A Long Walk to Water which sets itself in the Sudan and Lyddie which takes place on the east coast during the American Industrial Revolution both took me out of my comfort zone with reading. Having read books only from the middle school perspective like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid seriesand the Big Nate series, I always had more apparent similarities (age, geographical location, etc.) with main characters than discrete similarities (the meanings of the texts). Both the books on the seventh-grade reading curriculum made me open my eyes to the world. Many years later, I realized these books taught me that not everyone shares the same story as me, but we share our humanity. We all experience happiness, sadness, peaks and valleys in life, but we all have a unique story to tell.
I write this letter with great thanks. Once again, I had an amazing English teacher in my life. You fully knew that these stories would never place number one on my favorite reads list. However, these books had long lasting effects on why I read. From seventh grade on, I learned that reading allows an individual to step into the shoes of another. From reading, I am able to understand the motivations, lessons, and opinions of someone completely different than myself. Since this lesson roots itself from your classroom, I would like to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
With deep gratitude,
Dear Ms. Scanlon,
Constantly through my time in your classroom during my sophomore and senior year, I learned who I was. High school, a time where many try to find any identity other than themselves, served as a tough skyscraping mountain in my path of life that made me much stronger after having climbed over it. In Room 111, I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Coming from an elementary student meeting well below standards to a high school student reading at a somewhere close to average pace, I may have read slowly but I understood meaning exceptionally. Each of these books played a significant role in finding myself and my world view. Without your constant challenges and high expectations, I would have never developed my view today.
Kingsolver in The Poisonwood Bible developed my own theological literacy while learning that life, even though it might look drastically different from what my life looks like, is life. In Room 111, I learned no one way of life is better or more correct than another lifestyle. Walker in her brilliant work of The Color Purple revealed to me that even though one may struggle constantly to find themselves, one should never give up on themselves. In Room 111, I learned life gets better even if it appears like it will not. Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men addresses intellectual disabilities. Through reading the story and living life, I learned in Room 111 that I wanted to pursue a career in Special Education.
Without staying up well past midnight, annotating a book to the point that it became a journal, and reading a record number of books within a semester, I would have never found myself. These complex books explore the mysteries of human existence and our purpose. By reading these stories, I developed my own opinions while understanding another person’s opinion. From my high school reading, I learned who I am in relation to everyone else. Thank you for helping me discover myself.
Like how you just read my story through thank you notes, I have learned that every person has a story. By slowly reading the words but praising the meaning of them, reading has changed my perspective on society. In society when we meet someone different than ourselves, we have the responsibility to read about them. By saying this, I do not mean that we should literally read a book, in my case slowly read that book. But rather, we should get to know them and their journey. Each of these amazing teachers made me release how important it is for one person to walk a mile in the shoes of another. From hating reading to implanting it into my daily life, I have learned the importance of reading. I still wish I would read books for fun, but I am happy that I read other people and their stories every day.
With great appreciation for reading my story,