As a young girl, bedtime stories were a sort of “ritual”, as I was read to almost nightly by one of my parents. Some of my most beloved books as a child included Corduroy, The Rainbow Fish, and Edward the Emu, among countless others. By encountering language through bedtime stories as a child, a great love for books and reading was fostered during my childhood. As I grew a bit older, I developed a large collection of books, stacked inside my bedside nightstand and displayed in a bookcase in my bedroom, which were all mine to enjoy and even reread a few times.
At about 8 years old, I was basically obsessed with the Junie B. Jones Series and the well-known Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series. Eventually, I developed a subcollection of the Harry Potter novels, becoming infatuated with the series both on paper and on the big screen. In addition to books, I was introduced to Scrabble by my mother, as it’s her favorite game.
Additionally, I often played Mad Libs frequently with my sisters, finding joy in creating often nonsensical stories with various different vocabulary words. With these word games, I was further exposed to language as a child, developing a larger vocabulary.
As a child, the library was one of my favorite places, partly because of my love for books, but also because I was able to share trips to the library with my grandmother, specifically the Queens Public Library. Given that my grandmother is originally from Greece, it’d seem unexpected that she enjoyed reading English books, as the language was at times a challenge for her.
However, we would always take trips to the library whenever I slept over my grandparents’ house, making it a sort of ritual. After browsing through the sections, we’d always leave the library with at least 4 books to enjoy, later returning them and taking out a few more to indulge in. Although my grandmother had some trouble with perfecting her English, I found it so inspiring that she continued to read and challenge herself, developing a love for books that still lives on to this day.
Reflecting back on my earliest memories of language, it becomes clear that language and books have played a significant role within my family. Throughout my childhood, language and a shared love for reading helped me to grow closer to members of my family, strengthening our bonds and providing us all with memories that we can cherish forever. As a result of my childhood love of books and language, traditions were created: trips to the library with my grandmother, games of Scrabble with my mother, Mad Libs with my sisters, and countless more memories.
Aside from their role in my family, language and books shaped my earliest self and world view. As is commonly thought, books play an important role in teaching valued lessons and morals to children. For instance, simple children’s books, such as The Rainbow Fish, teach children the importance of sharing and being selfless. After refusing to share one of his shiny scales with another fish, as he was very proud of his appearance, he’s ignored by the other fish in the sea, eventually seeking out an octopus for advice, who advises him to share his scales. After sharing his scales, the fish creates new friendships and realizes that sharing and creating special bonds brings him happiness, not his once shiny appearance. Aside from being taught by my parents, children’s books helped me to develop important values as a child, including the importance of friendship, sharing, and being happy in your own skin (courtesy of Edward the Emu).