When I was a child, I remember sitting on our couch with my mom whenever I was sick as she read to me out of a book about a girl who had wanted to go see the ducks at the park but could not because she had caught the chicken pox. Since she had been looking forward to the trip, her mother made the park in her room to cheer the little girl up. My mother read that book to me every time I was sick until I could read it for myself. That’s my earliest memory of me reading: that little tiny book about the sick little girl who couldn’t go to the park. I still have that little battered book somewhere, tucked in a box with all of the other books I can never bear to part with because they shaped my life so much.
I have always loved words. From those first moments that my mother read to me to today, I have loved reading and writing just about anything. I read shampoo bottles, my grandmother’s Happiness magazine that she got from the drugstore, cereal boxes, instructional manuals, newspapers, the fleeting fine print in Viagra commercials…you name it, I’ve probably tried to read it.
As I grew older and needed more difficult books than those that children often read, I was gifted beyond my wildest dreams. My family knew I had an addiction to words and they complied willingly with books by Mercer Mayer, Marc Brown, Judy Blume, the American Girl series, almost anything. On holidays, I almost always got books.
Once I entered school, I flourished with reading. Writing took me a while to get the gist of, but eventually I fell in love with writing too. I was always in the library, much to the consternation of both my teachers and librarians. I read more books than anyone else in my elementary school, always topping the other students with Accelerated Reader points because we had to take a test on them whenever we read a book. And I read a lot of books.
I was reading above my grade level too. In third grade, I was on a sixth grade reading level. By fifth, I was reading books most children don’t read until high school. In fourth grade, I picked up War and Peace and Gulliver’s Travels. There was no contest; Swift tickled my fancy far more than Tolstoy.
And then I met Harry Potter, the skinny little boy with messy hair and glasses that changed me as a reader forever.
I was in fifth grade. My teacher told us that if we all read the first book, she would take us to see the movie. I had never had any real interest in Harry Potter, but I couldn’t refuse a reading challenge. And, okay, the movie looked pretty good. I fell in love.
For a bushy-haired book addict and know-it-all, those books were heaven. I was Hermione Granger, complete with annoying attitude and over-large front teeth. But more than the fact that the characters were so relatable was that it felt so real, more real than any book I had read before, even Swift, who I loved.
That Christmas, I got them all. I had them read before the end of Christmas break.
After that, I read all of the books when they came out, attending book parties at the local bookstore, and reading them the morning after, no matter how tired I was from being out so late. They were, and remain to this day, my favorite set of books. J.K. Rowling’s novels changed how I read. I wanted more worlds like Harry’s.
And so I passed through middle school and onto high school.
I read every South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee each and every year, the only student at my school to ever do so. My favorite ones were the fantasy ones since that is my favorite genre. Like elementary school, I was hardly seen out of the library. I ate lunch in there and worked in there during my free periods, shelving books. My librarian gave me an entire bag of advanced reader copies she had received because she knew that I would cherish them. And I did. I discovered Discworld, Forks, Washington, alien planets, magic in Victorian London…I found thousands of worlds and I loved them all. Except 1984. And poetry. I loved required reading and did so willingly.
These experiences shaped my love for books and for reading. They have made me the avid reader that I am today, even if I barely have time to read anything outside of my coursework.
To begin the process of transitioning my script from print to audio, I cut out a lot of the unnecessary commentary that I had put in there at first. The parenthetical expressions that I had really only worked with print and needed to be deleted. I had to do the recording more than once because I kept tripping over words or coughing.
It was really difficult for me to transition from print to an audio file because I had to monitor how fast I spoke and make sure that I was not pausing too long or not pausing too little.
I preferred the audio version because I could use different inflections with my voice, but the print version was definitely less complicated to put together.
This was a great exercise for me in trying a new form of media because I haven’t really done an audio recording before.