Discussion: Your School Reading Experiences

Since I’m a huge book nerd, I’m assuming that most people reading my blog are book nerds of varying degrees.  So I thought we could all share how our love of reading developed and was either discouraged or encouraged during school.  Here’s my story:

In grade one and two there was quite an excellent reading program at my school consisting of 26 levels you had to finish at the end of the second grade.  Well, the problem was that I mastered the books in each level too quickly but the teachers would not move me up the levels until I read every single book in them (although I was reading aloud fluently and had excellent reading comprehension).  Despite their efforts to hold me back, I was finished a month before school ended and my mother’s bitter fight with the school to get them to give me level-appropriate reading material began.

Middle school was an extremely boring joke.  By the time we were doing novel studies in grades 7, 8 and 9 I had already read all of the ones in the curriculum back in grade five and six.  My English teacher at this time was awesome and by grade nine she got tired of me spoiling the entire plots (I’ll admit I was a bit of a smartass and being bored/frustrated didn’t help).  So when I said yet again that I had already read the book we were about to study, she handed me an independent novel study booklet and let me use a book of my choosing.  I think I chose I, Claudius by Robert Graves and loved it.  Much better than the other option, which was reading a book I had read way back in the third grade (and could still summarize six years later).

So you could say school didn’t exactly encourage my love of reading, but thank goodness my parents did.  We didn’t always have money for things like new movies or toys but there was always money for books and for that I’ll always be grateful.  Without their support, I wouldn’t be writing this blog and my life would be a whole lot more boring and empty without it.

Well, now that you’ve heard my life story, I want to hear yours!  How did your school experiences affect your reading now?  Were they good or bad experiences?


  1. Jay Dee

    I remember doing a graded reader in grade 5. I and another classmate were so far ahead of everyone else (we tested as being a few years ahead) that we were able to spend our time out in the library reading the advanced books. The teacher spent her time with our class helping them improve. We only went in the class when we finished a book to get another one. I really enjoyed that.

    In junior high school, we read a few novels, including Lord of the Flies. To be honest, I don’t remember much else about what we read.

    In high school, we read a novel each year, as well as one Shakespeare play each year. I found Shakespeare fascinating. We read Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. As for novels, we read The Wars, The Chrysalids, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Overall, I wasn’t a big fan of reading novels in school, because they were made to be a chore rather than something fun. I started reading novels for fun in university, though.

  2. charliegirlteachergirl

    My story of reading starts in kindergarten. My kindergarten teacher was horrible – she would have her certificate revoked if she was still teaching today. At the end of the year, she told my mother that I wouldn’t pass first grade because I couldn’t read. I don’t know what my mom’s response was (I should ask her), but that summer my mom bought Hooked on Phonics and we did it every day for hours. By the time I started first grade, I could read books for third grade level. I loved reading, and our school librarian was wonderful with helping to find books. In elementary school (grades 4 and 5), our library seemed to have shelves of never-ending books. I strove to reach the highest levels in our AR program, and through that program and my voracious reading, I got to go on various day field-trips that 95% of my school didn’t get to go on. I got to go to the LBJ Ranch – and shake Lady Bird Johnson’s hand! – go to various theme parks, etc.

    In middle school I wasn’t kosher with most of the books we had to read in class, and in 8th grade they offered Pre-AP, so I had summer reading. That year they also decided to do blocked reading and writing, so I had my teacher twice, once for reading and again for writing. We read The Giver that year, and I loved the assignments she made us do with the book

    My first two years of high school were a joke. I had the cheerleading coach as my English teacher, and all she was concerned about was cheerleading and getting pregnant. She was at her desk on the computer most of the time, but she did have good selections of reading. I didn’t read half of my summer reading books, but I did get exposure to Shakespeare and classics. We had to recite sections from literature (including the prologue of Romeo and Juliet), we did a group novel study with various activities, and I fell in love with A Midsummer’s Night Dream. We even got to watch the movie!

    In all, my school district and my teachers did not really encourage reading. I had to find my readerly way on my own, and I think I only did that because my mother was a reader.

  3. Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections

    I only started reading for fun when I was about 16. Before that, I was forced to read sucky books in high school. Like, really sucky books. And then some more in college. I was forced to read about a man who sold cheese, and a story about old people complaining they were old. They were absolutely ridiculous. I did not enjoy my high school reading experiences.

  4. Roger

    For reasons known only to my mother, I attended seven senior, or high schools. Although the syllabus was different in each, they all let me read (mainly because I had no idea what was going on) so I had plenty of time to indulge my one true love: reading.

  5. Spectacles

    Unfortunately, I never had any kind of reading program at my elementary school. But, I read a lot as it was. My mom often had to come into my room at night and make sure that I didn’t stay up too late reading. Let’s just say I got really good at fake sleeping and listening for my parents footsteps. Whenever I wasn’t convincing enough though, my mom would have to take my books into her room.

    My second year of high school I had the worst English teacher. In fact, she ruined reading for me. She made us read a book called “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” and I’ve had trouble reading for enjoyment ever since. From then until now, I still don”t know what genre I like reading. It’s been a long literary existential crisis for me.

    The next year, I created my blog in order to try to help myself find good books to read and keep reading.

Leave a Reply