Wednesday 18 June 2014

Blog Every Day in June Day 18 : I hate reading, NO you can't make me do it! Leave me alone !!!

As a child, I hated to read. It was a battle of wills every night before bed time - we all knew bedtime stories were coming. No matter how I cried and yelled (sorry Mum and Dad) that I didn't want to participate, both parents still sat with me night after night, reading fairy tails to me. Fast forward 25 years later you can't get my head out of a monograph, journal, ebook, blog, news feed, get the idea. 

I can't really pin-point when this hatred occurred. I can only speculate it was a combination of English not being my first language, and that at the time there were no applicable services that resulted in not having any confidence in my own reading capabilities.

With both my parents and grandparents speaking only Macedonian at home, it was only when we ventured outside the home that English was spoken. My brother (thank you my amazing big brother) felt the brunt of this when he had to venture into kindergarten. It was difficult and frustrating from him, even though my big brother was an intelligent child. And with the language barrier, he was unable to communicate effectively, which caused him a lot of frustration. No one understand that he knew the answers to the teacher’s question, but just couldn't get anyone else to understand him. The Non-English Speaking programs of more than 30 years ago were not as evolutionary as today's services, programs and support. From the childhood memories my brother and those that I possess, it was a long and difficult process of learning to read and write. My own bed time reading became a battle of wills - the more they tried to get me to read, the more I wanted to stop. 

My family had no idea where to go to get help. My brother's teacher mentioned the possibility of the local public library. It was there that my family found the endless children's reference collection, story books, picture books and it was all free. As long as it was within the opening hours, we could get all the information that was needed, and more. Learning was no longer limited to 8am-3pm - it could be undertaken whenever it was necessary.

By high school my reading had improved, but there was no love lost between myself and the written word. I read what was required, nothing more. Home work was completed, but there was no thirst for knowledge. My education was flat, not exciting. It was just enough to get by, nothing more. It continued on this way until high school. That was when I really found the library, and Mrs Bowden.

She was my high school librarian, and she changed it all. The library became a comfortable place to read, relax and learn. Free periods were spent here, homework was completed here, research was initiated here. And it was here that my love of reading flourished. Recommending books to read was only the beginning. It simply amazed me how she always overrode the LIMS for my borrowing limit. It seemed Mrs Bowden had magical powers, and I was spellbound.

I came to libraries later in my career. It was during a life-changing event that made me reevaluate my life and where I wanted to be. The combination of my IT and teaching background allowed me to almost flow seamlessly into the library industry. It is a perfect fit.

I currently volunteer my time at a primary school library, in an area that has a high non-English speaking background. It has amazed me the types of early literacy tools that are available to these teachers, library staff and students. These technologies span tablet applications, YouTube clips to Reading Eggs, websites in general, electronic flash cards to the implementation of the Premier's Reading Challenge. All of these services allow for the promotion of reading through an enjoyable learning environment. I can only look-on in amazement at how these children will have a very different start to reading English than I did. 

It still astounds my family how I evolved from that defiant child, to an adult where all my local libraries know me by name and reading preferences. It was a long and hard road, hours of practice and support from my parents, big brother, teachers, schools and other reading services and programs. And I thank you for the time and efforts of you all. 

-Kathy Kumcevski
TAFE NSW Library Practice Teacher

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