Readers are Leaders

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. Weekly Saturday trips to the library (where my mom would drop me off and pick me up hours later) were sacred. I scored very high on my first grade reading evaluation and often read books above my grade level. I preferred reading to visiting friends on weekends and after school.

But I didn’t like writing about what I read. In 5th grade Miss Jaderman evaluated our reading ability on small book reports we wrote for books we read. After 5 book reports we got a small pin, after 15 we got a better pin and after 25 we got a gold pin. While I eventually earned my 25 book pin, I got low reading marks for a few quarters and was recommended for the remedial reading class for 6th grade.

We were not expected to write much on the book reports, they were less than half a sheet of 8.5×11 paper. The top half was reserved for an illustration. After filling out the title of the book and author, there was maybe room for 100 words. But I hated doing it. I know I read more than 25 books that year, probably more than most of the class, but because I was so reluctant to fill out the book report forms, I was considered a poor reader.

At the end of the year we were given all of our book reports, bound between two sheets of construction paper with brass colored brads. I think my book report portfolio was orange. I think I still have it somewhere, I distinctly remember what it looked like.

A few weeks ago I found the book report pins. Strange how I kept them all these years, despite despising the method of earning them.

I guess this is one of these things I need to let go. My anger at Miss Jaderman for not realizing I was a good reader — just a reluctant writer and the shame I felt being placed in the low reading class in 6th grade (luckily my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, figured out I was a good reader within days and brought me back to the regular/advanced reading group).

Things like this could squelch the love of reading out of someone. I am forever grateful to Mrs. Anderson for this, as well as for fostering an even greater love of reading.

6 thoughts on “Readers are Leaders

  1. “Things like this could squelch the love of reading out of someone.” Yes! The way gym teachers ruined my life for awhile and it wasn’t til I moved to Elgin and had an aerobics instructor for a roommate that the damage began to be undone! You were lucky there was a relatively quick fix!


  2. Yes! This happened to me in both reading and math at different times. I am watching my apraxic 11 year old hate summer reading–love the reading, hate the reporting to prove that he’s done it. It’s so hard to watch him be frustrated with the output end of it.

    I HATED my 6th grade math teacher and part of that hatred was proving her wrong, that I was smart, that I could do this stuff, that I could pass her benchmarks and move out of the 4th grade math group. It’s given me reason to believe that remedial classes, unless they are truly covering bases that were missing, are worthless.


  3. Oh no, she wasn’t a great teacher if she couldn’t see the difference between being a reader, and having to write about what you read. Yay for Mrs Anderson. I am with you. I have never liked writing book reviews – rarely do it for Goodreads, never do it for blogs (though I’ll list what I enjoyed), though I have another blogger friend from Toronto who reviews every single book she reads. The thought of having to do that myself would stop me reading!


  4. It’s finally time to thank the Library Club of America. I earned my gold pin more than 60 years ago–it is still one of my most prized possessions. A few years later, at the age of 15, I started keeping a list of every book I read, and never stopped. Today, i have a 3″ binder filled with the titles and dates completed of more than 3,000 books. Throughout the years, in an attempt to “give back” for the encouragement I received every Saturday morning in the library, I was a volunteer reader for Recording for the Blind, worked in several book-related jobs, joined several organizations, and became a teacher with the goal of having at least one student who started the year saying, “I hate reading” finish the year saying, “I love reading!” (At one point, this happened three years in a row!) Next step? Time to do some writing.


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