Learning Through Stories: How Did You Become A Reader?
Today begins the fifth round of the Learning Through Stories project on the Brilliant Blog. (See here and here for stories from the first, second, third and fourth rounds.) A lot of scientific research—and our own experience—demonstrates that we understand and remember material best when it’s presented to us as a narrative, or when we tell our own story about it. So, once a week, I invite you to share your stories of where and when and how you learned something in particular. And I’ll be asking you to do one additional, perhaps challenging thing that is nevertheless the key to the exercise: to draw out a generalizable lesson from your story that could apply to the learning of other things, and could be used by people other than yourself.
The question this week is: “Where, when, and how did you become a reader?” Write your answer below, and try to include as many details about when, where, and how it happened, as well as what lesson you can draw from it. I’ll start:
I don’t remember the moment I learned to read—I’m sure there wasn’t just one. (Although, according to family legend, my husband had such a moment—when he was five years old, he leapt from his chair, book in hand, exclaiming, “I got it! I got it!“) But I do remember the summer I became a reader. It was the summer that my Aunt Pat gave me her set of Nancy Drew novels—a long row of books with enticing titles like The Mystery of the Fire Dragon and The Clue of the Broken Locket.
I made my way one by one through those volumes, and although I can’t remember what else happened that summer, I remember that Nancy’s hair was a shade called titian, that her friend Bess was always described as “plump” and her friend George as “impish,” and that her father was impossibly, enviably indulgent. I learned that you could make less noise going up stairs if you stepped on the side of the tread instead of in the middle, which would let out a telltale creak. Mostly I learned that there as a whole other world that one could enter just by opening a book, and I’ve been crossing back and forth between the two worlds ever since.
If I were to draw a lesson from this story, it would be that long stretches of time to read are precious, and less and less available as we get older. I do read a lot still, but it’s in hurried (or sleepy) minutes snatched here and there. The pleasure of fully entering a fictional universe is one no child should miss.
OK, now your turn: How and when and where did you become a reader?