When I was in first grade my best friend was a voracious reader. I was a tomboy more interested in playing ball that reading a book. I just couldn’t sit still. I didn’t mind getting my work done because the competitive side of me wanted to make an A. I worked as hard and fast as I could right after the teacher gave an assignment so I could have it finished before I went home. There were neighborhood friends at home and I was allowed to play ball if my homework was complete.
The competitive side of me was also measuring myself against others. Each day my friend took home a book from the library and so did I. She returned each day having finished her book and I had not. You could check out another book when you finished the one you took home. The books she checked out from the library got thicker and thicker and thicker. Mine did not. I started to doubt myself as a reader. “How could she read so much so fast,” I wondered. For a while I pretended to read books the same thickness as hers but this made me feel bad inside so I stopped. I stopped pretending and I stopped reading everything except what was necessary.
Since 2002, I’ve led a classical literature club for home school kids 7-17. In the beginning I felt like a fraud. I thought, “Only people who love to read would lead a book club.” I kept working at it because my purpose for having the club was for my daughter to obtain her high school English credits and to make friends in our new hometown, 700 miles away from our family and friends.
My insecurity pushed me to study hard. I read about literary elements and techniques, discussion questions and methods and ……. I read really, really, really hard books. For the longest time that 7-year-old small voice in my head whispered, “You can’t do this. You can’t read as good as other people. Who do you think you are leading a book club?”
That was back in 2002. I’m still a much slower reader than my friends and most of the kids in the LITClub are better readers than I am, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I’ve made the most amazing friends from our book clubs, seen children blossom into confident critical thinking and speaking individuals, read some awesome classical literature and had a great time. If I can start a LITClub, so can you!
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