When I was a child, I fell into a world of books. My mother was a pre-school teacher and housed a rather noteworthy collection of titles like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “Goodnight Moon” in our home office, and even before I could read, I would sit in our hand-me-down rocking chair and make up stories to fit with the illustrations splattered upon the pages. By the time I reached first grade, I was one of the top readers in my class, second only to a boy named Paul who I still to this day hold a grudge against for beating me on every single timed hooked on phonics exercise.
As my reading speed accelerated, so did my growing collection of chapter books and my desire to read everything from street signs to poetry. I became the class book worm. One day, my third grade teacher used me as an example for going above and beyond on our 350-page monthly reading log that I regularly overshot by around 1,700 pages. I also had my library card account number memorized by age nine and looked forward to the Scholastic school book fair more than I ever did to my birthday so needless to say, I was a literary nerd epitomized.
I carried this obsession with books with me as I grew older, so it is unsurprising that all of my friends today know of my childhood filled to the brim with the fictional stories I adored. However, the other half of the story that I often neglect to tell is how much my parents played into this love of books that later led to a love of learning and a desire to succeed in my education. What started with my parents simply reading picture books to me at bedtime spiraled into this great obsession with books, and as soon as my parents realized my literary interest, they did everything in their power to encourage it.
My mom, although busy working and taking care of my sister and me, somehow she always made it a priority to shuttle me to the library in the family minivan and on the way back she would ask me about the books I checked out. Meanwhile, even in the months where I sat at the kitchen table listening to my parents in the next room extensively budget and pinch pennies, my father relentlessly promised to pay for any and all books from Barnes and Noble that I wanted. Going to the bookstore on Saturday nights together became our thing, and on the drive over he would tell me stories from his remedial literature class in high school. He claims that he used to hate reading and not understand it, so his teachers placed him in a remedial class that forced him to reevaluate books and sparked a literary interest that sustained him into his adult life. His stories always ended in the same tried-and-true life lesson that nobody could ever take away my education and the things I picked up from my myriad books.
While in the moment it was easy to brush off my parents’ encouragement of my love for reading, in truth I would not be where I am today if they had not allowed me to pursue this interest so dedicatedly. As a young girl, reading turned wheels in my mind that taught me to dream bigger, demand better, and give everything I have to making something of myself. My parents recognized this important influence from the beginning and pushed me to explore a world of books even further. Without my mom and dad, I can say with absolute certainty that I would not have seen such great success in my academic career, and for that, I am the most grateful.
by Carly Pablos