My Reading Autobiography

by Kristin Coe

Pre-School Age

I began "reading" at age 3 because my mom read books to me, and I memorized the words that went with the pictures on each page. Sometimes Mom would try to trick me by making up some other words, and I would say "No, Mommy! That's not what it says!" I remember my mom reading nursery rhymes and she and I singing them together. Some of my favorite childhood books were Richard Scarry’s Busytown picture books, Curious George, and fairy tales such as: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Little Red Riding Hood, Chicken Little, and The Little Red Hen. But I remember my mom reading the Richard Scarry’s Busytown books the most because my favorite character was Lowly Worm, who was always hiding somewhere on the page, and I would try to spot him. Luckily, I had two of these hardback books with several stories in each one! I remember reading at nap time, bed time, and anytime in between.

Curious George - Trailer

Early Grade School (1st - 3rd)

During my early grade school years, I don't remember any assigned class reading, but I vaguely recall reading aloud as a class or in small groups. In 1st and 2nd grade, I was mildly obsessed with Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, but in 3rd grade, I read The Little House on the Prairie series. I loved those books because my Uncle Gary, Aunt Bea, and cousins Gary and Phil lived way out in the country in MN just like Laura Ingalls’ family, and they were always talking about surviving the winter blizzards there . Also, in 3rd and on into 4th grade, I became obsessed with mysteries. My mom passed down some of her old Trixie Belden, Bobbsey Twins, and Nancy Drew books, and from then on, I was hooked! I started collecting Trixie Beldens and Nancy Drews, blowing my allowance on them every time I went into Walden Books at the mall.
Ramona And Beezus - Official Trailer - in theaters July 23rd!
Nancy Drew Trailer

Mid Grade School (4th-5th) = Judy Blume Fest!

During 4th grade, still in my newly discovered collecting phase, I “found” Judy Blume. This might have happened at our tiny grade school library, but more than likely it happened over the summer before 5th grade, when the Bookmobile rolled into our small town. I couldn’t get enough of that air-conditioned library-on-wheels! I read every Judy Blume book it had, and then asked my mom to get some of my favorites as gifts. My collection consisted of: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret, Blubber, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Deenie, and Tiger Eyes. I was only interested in fiction at this time, and I soon read all the “good” books the Bookmobile had to offer, so then I talked my mom into getting a Galesburg Public Library card and driving me there once a week.

Tiger Eyes Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Judy Blume Movie HD

Late Grade School (5th-6th) = YA Delight!

Although I seem to have blocked out any recollection of assigned class reading in late grade school (probably short stories from a literature book), I remember being called on and volunteering to read aloud a lot, since I was a fluent reader by this point. I know we focused on nonfiction newspaper reading because each student had to take turns finding and presenting ( basically memorizing) a national news article (5th graders), an international news article (6th graders), and the daily weather report (both grades). Also during this time period, we had to take turns listening to reading comprehension tapes and answering questions. I was regularly sent to the school library for speed reading training sessions, which I loved!

Personally, I remember checking out as many books as I could carry on each trip to the Galesburg Public Library between 5th and 6th grade; I was reading 15-20 books a week by this time. Some of my new YA favorites from the library were: The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger; I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me by M.E. Kerr; Confessions of a Teenage Baboon; I Never Loved your Mind; My Darling, My Hamburger; and Pardon Me, You’re Stepping On My Eyeball! by Paul Zindel, (I just loved his bizarre titles!) Ellen Conford’s Hail, Hail, Camp Timberwood; If This is Love I’ll Take Spaghetti; and Dear Lovey Hart I Am Desperate were also favorites of mine. Around the end of 6th grade, I started collecting The Sweet Valley High books, which I bought at Walden Books with my babysitting money.

Sweet Valley High/ Confidential - Twin Drama Returns in Sweet Valley Confidential (NPR NEWS)

Jr. High & H. S. = Stephen King Scares My Butt Off!

In junior high and high school, I alternated checking out books from the school library and the public library. Once I read all of the "good" books in the school library, I would go to the public library until the school got some new books in. As for assigned reading, junior high was all about short stories and essays from a lit textbook because we focused more on creative writing. It wasn't until high school that we started reading Shakespeare. Ninth grade was Romeo and Juliet; tenth grade was Julius Caesar (which we got to act out in costume on videotape afterwards). Junior year, we covered American Lit stories and essays and the Romantic poets. I don't remember reading any novels because my teacher was obsessed with grammar practice. Senior year was more of the same, but the last semester was research paper writing. I read a lot of research articles and books and wrote my paper on euthanasia. I was so psyched to win the Senior writing award for my paper!

In the meantime, starting in junior high and on into high school, I fell in love with Stephen King, and started a serious collection of his books! Some I checked out at the library, but most of them I bought at the mall. I liked the idea of owning my own copies, so I could read them over and over, and loan them to my little brother (once I thought he was old enough/cool enough to handle them!) Although I loved them all, my absolute faves back then were: The Shining, The Stand, It, Misery, Thinner, The Dead Zone, The Body

(the short story basis for Stand By Me, one of the greatest films of all time) and The Talisman (written with Peter Straub). I still dabble in Stephen King from time to time today; recent favorites are The Dark Tower series, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Under the Dome.

UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King Official Book Trailer

College Daze = And the Beat Goes On...

I continued reading and collecting books throughout my time at Augustana College (when I wasn’t studying, of course! ;)) One of my English professors was a Hemingway scholar in Paris, and he got me interested in reading his novels. My favorites were A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. I also had to read (meaning I skimmed) Frankenstein, Jude the Obscure, Sister Carrie, Great Expectations, and a few other titles I don't remember. Those professors were "boring", so I had to force myself to attend their classes. As an adult later on, I realized I was being lazy and immature by not reading those assigned titles, and I have since read them on my own! I did have a Realism & Naturalism class with a professor who had been a Norman Maclean scholar (so cool!) when she was in college, so we got to read A River Runs Through It, which I totally loved! I loved the movie version too. I had to take a Shakespeare class for my major, and it ended up being The Comedies. I loved A Midsummer Night's Dream, but I did not love my "sexist" professor who only called on her male students. So I rebelled by skipping that class and ended up with my only C- in college...

My first serious college boyfriend lived in a house with several non-fraternity hippie types, and it was then that I started expanding my reading horizon to include more alternative titles. I started reading and collecting works of the Beat Generation writers, Charles Bukowski, and illustrator R. Crumb. My favorite Beat authors were Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg. On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, Mexico City Blues, and The Subterraneans were my favorite Kerouac books. I loved Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, Junky, Queer, and The Wild Boys. I also enjoyed reading Howl, Collected Letters, Collected Poems, and Snapshot Poetics by Allen Ginsberg. My love of Beat Generation Culture was matched only by my fascination with the Santa Monica wino/bum lifestyle of Charles Bukowski. My favorite Buk novels are: Women, Barfly, Ham on Rye, Post Office, Factotum, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, and Tales of Ordinary Madness to name just a few. Similarly, around this time, I developed an affinity for Hunter S. Thompson. My favorite books of his are: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Rum Diaries, Hell’s Angels, and Generation of Swine.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway [BookReview]
On The Road - Official Trailer #3 [HD]
The Rum Diary Official Trailer 2011

The Literary Life of an Adult Teacher-Librarian

As an adult teacher and reader, I am a more sporadic reader due to time constraints but I'm still voracious, depending on which good book I get "sucked into". I still read some of my faves from high school and college, but now I am trying to focus more on reading the classics I haven't read yet, along with reading more YA novels and popular fiction in preparation for my future career as a middle/high school librarian. When I was teaching h.s. English full time, I read and reread novels in the curriculum, so they would be fresh in my mind as we covered each novel unit . Freshman English literature curriculum: Night, The Odyssey, a short story unit, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Eleventh grade novels covered: The Crucible, Of Mice and Men, Raisin In the Sun, and Into the Wild, Eleventh grade honors novels included: The Great Gatsby, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Sun Also Rises, and The Grapes of Wrath. Luckily, I liked and had a hand in choosing the curriculum, so I especially enjoyed teaching those novels. That curriculum didn't leave a whole lot of time for pleasure reading, however...

Classics I’ve read for pleasure this year, now that I'm not working, include: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Gulliver’s Travels, and The Time Machine. YA novels include: the Unwind series, The Maze Runner series, Twilight series, Hunger Games series, The Alchemyst series, Perks of Being a Wallflower, plus all the YA novels we were assigned to read for class. I'm so glad I can afford to stay home, so I can really enjoy reading for pleasure! I really loved having to read lots of ya novels for this class. Some of them, like Twilight, Hunger Games, Absolutely True Diary and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, were just a matter of rereading, but I was introduced to many new books I loved, such as Aristotle and Dante, In Darkness, Friends With Boys, Left For Dead, Pick-up Game, and Skeleton Creek. This class opened my eyes to being able to enjoy YA nonfiction as well. I had forgotten just how much I liked reading young adult literature and how good it could be!

Popular fiction I’ve read this year includes the novels Life of Pi, Room, Wild, and ( I just started reading) The 5th Wave. I think it's awesome so far, and the book trailers make me want to read more; they are so intriguing! I think I will continue to be a "good book" reference person for those reluctant readers, and I will become more knowledgeable about the new fiction and nonfiction books/ trends that my junior high and high school students will (hopefully) be able to access. Creating different projects and assignments in this class also helped me to gain a better grasp of what my life as a school librarian will be like, the jobs I will have to do, the people I will be serving, and the expectations both they and I will have about my role as the teacher librarian. I am so looking forward to starting my new career soon! Hopefully, my love of reading and learning will spill over and help to inspire some of my students. That's really the most I could ask for!

I still hope to push myself by reading more classics, nonfiction, graphic novels, and historical fiction genres and develop more of an affinity for and understanding of them. While I read books mostly on my ereader now due to accessibility and space/storage issues, I still buy “real” books in hopes of getting them autographed for my various collections! My new goal for this year is to read at least 100 books of varying genres by January 2014. Even if I don't quite make it, at least I can say I tried! :)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Official Trailer #1 (2012) - Emma Watson Movie HD
The Hunger Games 2 : Catching Fire Teaser Trailer (2013)
Room Book Trailer
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - 1st Wave
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - 2nd Wave
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - 3rd Wave
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - 4th Wave

The End!

Thanks for taking the time to explore my reading autobiography! I hope you enjoyed looking through it as much as I enjoyed creating it, and that maybe you even learned a new fact or two!
P.S. All videos courtesy of

Catch ya later! :)