February 10, 2011

Reading Changes Lives

I received an email yesterday from Mrs. Nielsen at Rose Springs Elementary School in Stansbury Park, Utah. She and the rest of the 6th grade faculty want to read Beholders: Insight to their students over the course of the next couple months. Once they have finished, they want me to talk to their students. I am honored by the invitation, especially since I am not published yet. Am I going to do it? Oh, yeah! Yes, yes, yes!

Why am I so excited about this?

When I first started creating the world of Appernysia in August of 2008, my greatest driving factor was to create a story that would inspire the imagination of other people, enough to make them want to read and write themselves--particularly children.

I grew up loving fictional novels, until I became distracted by the repercussions of puberty and social disharmony in 7th grade. I didn't read another book seriously until 11th grade when my English teacher assigned Tom Sawyer. I loved the book! I ate it up! I was excited to take the comprehension exam after we finished reading. I expected a high score and with heavy anticipation, I grabbed the graded test from my teacher. I was disappointed to see that although I had read the entire book, I got the same score that I usually received when I didn't read the book. Did I read another book again in high school? Oh, no. No, no, no.

When I took my ACT exam my senior year in high school, I was satisfied with my results--with the exception of one category. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me that I received a terrible score in the "Reading Comprehension" category. I was far below the national average.

A few months later, I dove head-first into a more difficult book, determined not to skip a single line that I didn't understand. It took me 18 months, but I finally finished the Book of Mormon, a companion book of scripture to the Holy Bible and another testament of Jesus Christ.

I learned to love reading.


I started attending Salt Lake Community College shortly after accomplishing my goal. When I took the entrance placement exam, would you be surprised if I told you that "Reading Comprehension" was my highest score? The results were the exact opposite of my high school ACT.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to inspire hope and a positive outlook for those who might feel like I did in high school--those who struggle with reading comprehension. I believe that anybody with patience and dedication can learn, as I have learned, to understand and love literature.

I am astounded at what I've been able to accomplish since I learned to love reading. Now I'm just a few classes away from earning a Bachelor degree in English at the University of Utah. I have also finished writing my first novel, with many more in the works.

If someone had told me in high school that I would be where I am today, I would have laughed in their face. Literally.

Reading changes lives. Always. I am living proof.