Me, Caught? Constantly!

by Jody Feldman

Me, circa 5th grade, in my favorite reading chair;
surprisingly, without a book.

When I was in school, especially in 4th - 7th grades, you’d rarely catch me without a book. Sure, I read before 4th grade--more than your average kid. Certainly I've kept reading since. It was those four years, however, that my reading memories are the strongest.

What did I read? I wish I had a list.* I do know I read all (or nearly all) of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. I read The Secret Garden, Harriet the Spy, and the Encyclopedia Brown books. I spent too long poring over the Scholastic book orders to cull my purchase list to however many my parents could afford, which was always too few. I remember constant trips to the library. I remember nearly memorizing the backs of cereal boxes and reading every possible sign on road trips.

Not once, however, do I remember my parents telling me to stop reading. Maybe I was sensitive enough that I self-regulated in appropriate situations. Or maybe not. Maybe my parents understood the value of reading which they, themselves, continued the rest of their lives.

Even back then, during those four years of intensive reading, I could discern a well-written book from one that felt slapped together. I could appreciate the rhythm and flow of words and ideas. I could tell a satisfying ending from one that left me wanting.

I’m so grateful I had the parents I did, the ones who never, ever told me to put down a book. They didn’t know it at the time; neither did I. But when I was reading, I was also learning to write.

*When I visit schools, I often encourage students
to keep a running list of books they've read
to look back on when they're older.


  1. It really is true--you start to become a writer by teaching yourself to become a good reader first!

    1. And it's like when you try and tell this to the kids who ask how to become better writers, they don't really believe you. (Or really, they want a different answer.)

  2. Jody, this is so in, so close to my own experience. Those were definitely the most voracious reading years of my life.... and yes Harriet, and yes Encyclopedia Brown... and ditto on the awesome parenting when it came to all things books-and-reading. I could basically cut and paste this entry for my own! Very cool....

  3. Yay for parents who let you read. Were they readers, too? I've heard that the best way to make your kids readers - even better than reading to them - was to a reader yourself and let them see YOU read. Sounded good to me!

  4. Back then, my mom more than my dad. He was always working in his art studio. But later, he always had a book!

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