My Reading Autobiography

by Bailey Benge

A new reader is born

As a child...

I learned to read at a pretty young age. My mother and father read to me frequently and my brother was already reading so I was surrounded by books and avid readers. I never remember a time that I didn't love to read. By the time I was going to kindergarten, I already knew how to read pretty well.

Some of my favorite childhood books...

as a child included the Nancy Drew books, the Junie B. Jones series, Dr.Seuss books, the Boxcar Children, Arthur, Rainbow Fish, and the Alice series.
I especially loved reading the Berenstain Bears! I also found that I loved to listen to books on tape through the Berenstain Bears series and it was one of my favorite things to watch the books really come to life in the television version of the books!
The Berenstain Bears - Go to School / Week at Grandma's

Influential Reading Experiences

The Diary of Anne Frank

One of my most influential reading experiences was reading the Diary of Anne Frank in fourth grade with my best friend. I still to this day remember this experience and I am so thankful that I read that book. I believe that is what started my passion for learning about the Holocaust and what really gave me a heart for helping people around the world that are in trouble.
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Battle of the Books

In the fourth and fifth grades, I joined our schools Battle of the Books team. (My fourth grade year team is pictured above and my fifth grade team is pictured below.) You had to try out and be picked to be apart of the team. Each year, we read approximately 20 books and then would spend time practicing outside of school by ourselves, and also once or twice a week after school together as a team. There was a huge competition that we prepared for where we would be asked many questions about details of each of the books. The team that answered the most correctly won and moved up higher to go to more competitions until a champion won at the state level. Some of the books that I still remember from reading them during Battle of the Books are:
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Another World...

All of these experiences continued to fuel my love for reading. I read more and more. In elementary school, AR (Accelerated Reader) had kept me reading because we had to reach a certain point goal each quarter by reading books and taking AR tests. However, in middle school I read just because I loved to read and desperately wanted to read. I loved being in another world, escaping from my own reality to some setting in a book that felt magical! In middle school, I remember reading The Clique series, The Series of Unfortunate Events (I was a little behind on that one!), Even books that we had to read in class have stuck with me. I remember reading Night by Elie Wiesel, Ender's Game, and The Count of Monte Cristo in the seventh and eighth grades. I still remember watching the movie The Count of Monte Cristo, as well, and comparing the two!
The Count Of Monte Cristo - Trailer

A Funny Tidbit: Rebel Reader

Many times as a child I often got in trouble for reading. I would read instead of doing things I was supposed to, like chores, but I would also stay up late and read in the floor of my walk in closet (because then the light wouldn't shine through my door!). I was supposed to be in bed sleeping, so I would frequently get in trouble, but once I would get hooked on a book, I had to finish it!! "But mom, I just want to finish this chapter!" and then 2 hours later I would still be awake, finally reading the last chapter! I know there were quite a few nights I would stay up almost the whole night just to finish a book! It got easier to hide and not get in trouble when I finally got a booklight! Sneaky, sneaky...

Times A Changin'

In my teen years, as I got to high school, I still loved to read, but with school work, church activities, dance, and much extracurricular involvement in my school, I did not have the time that I would have loved to spend reading. My summers became my favorite time of the year! If I wasn't with my family or busy with my friends, my nose was most likely in a book! Towards the end of middle school I had become a huge realistic fiction reader. Sarah Dessen was one of my favorite authors. I am pretty sure I have read just about every book she has written at least twice! After her, I began to read Lurlene McDaniel. I couldn't get enough! I loved just about any realistic fiction story that had romance, friendship, and some element of tragedy that I knew I could count on. (Normally the main character had cancer, a brain tumor, or an extremely close loved one that had died.) This might have stemmed from the Sharon Draper series that we read in eighth grade:
These books were extremely realistic and focused on a horrible tragedy in a high school. I, being the emotion lover that I am, loved to read these books (not to mention that Sharon Draper came to our school and talked to us and autographed our books!!) because of the places that they took me emotionally and the worlds that my mind got to travel to. Lurlene McDaniel is still one of my favorite authors to this day because of her ability to do just that. I would bawl my eyes out when the main character would die because of her brain tumor, or the main characters fiance would get extremely wounded in a car racing accident--and I loved it! The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and others just like them became my favorite books and movies.

College: How my Passions changed my reading

College has definitely had a shift in my reading experience and tastes as well. I am very passionate about my faith and read books to grow in that area of my life. I also, as an aspiring teacher, want to grow in that area so I have read and am currently reading a few books about teaching. I also desire strongly to live and teach abroad, as well as adopt children so I have also read books that match that area of my heart.