The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Catcher in the Rye are two very different books, but I really love both of them, and to this day, I read them over and over again. I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was 15 or 16 and I just fell in love with it. My teenager side might come out as I'm saying this, but I was surprised how well the author could relate to and put into words the feelings and frustrations of a teenager coming into his own and losing his innocence. Everyone hits that stage in high school where they don't know who they are and they don't feel understood, so in reading that book, I felt connected with it.
Going from reading as a passion and a hobby to reading for my classes was something I struggled with. Before, I would let the story wash over me. I wouldn't engage as actively, and so I almost had to train myself to ask, “What else can I be thinking about? What more can I take away from this?” Learning to read critically was definitely a bit of a learning curve for me as an English student.
Last year was my first time being involved in the Reading Identity conference. A lot of times when you go to a lecture, you're there to listen to the prof, but with this kind of thing, it's essentially a big open conversation. Students and profs bounce a million different ideas off each other. I do a lot of outreach in classes to try to promote it and I always make sure to mention that you don’t have to write a paper specifically for it. If you’re writing something right now or have written something in the past that you really enjoy – a paper that you love and feel strongly about – use that.
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