Armchair BEA is a fun online event that those of us who could not attend BEA in New York City can participate in! There’s ways to network with other bloggers, posts on blogging tips, giveaways, and happenings at BEA from people who are there. Visit the Armchair BEA blog to see a schedule of events!
Today, I get to talk all about my life with books, networking outside the book blogosphere, and what I have done to impact the bookish community locally, rather than just online. This is a topic I simply adore, just because doing this helped me discover that my love of reading is even stronger than I had thought.
After I graduated college in December of 2009, I kind of went through a mini “what now?” crisis. I had my degree, but just didn’t know where to go from there. I knew I wanted to own my own graphic design business, which I do now, but I didn’t know if I wanted to only do that, or if I wanted to do that as a side thing and find something else to do as well. Long story short, I had to feel useful until I knew what I was going to do with my life. I decided to start volunteering at a local elementary school, teaching children how to read and/or speak English. The school I chose did not have enough employees to reach every child who was in need of extra help. Most of the children come from low-income families, and almost all of them are Spanish-speakers. I knew this would be a wonderful use of my time.
I started working with children one-on-one for several hours a week, and really enjoyed it. My kids and I bonded, and it was amazing to see the transformations they went through. It was so fast! I had one little guy in particular who had just arrived from Mexico. Not only did I have to try and teach him to read, I had to teach him English! We went through the alphabet every day, and he would get so excited when he got things right. It was an amazing experience. I ended up being offered a job, and I snatched it up. I spent the whole next year tutoring in reading, teaching English and phonics to different classes of youngsters, smiling every time I heard “Miss Jana!!!”, and getting lots of hugs.
In a way, this blog is dedicated to them. I constantly think of my littles, and all the amazing things we learned together. They made me realize how important reading is, and how exciting it can be. I watched the tears fall when it was too hard, and we jumped up and down together when it all of a sudden became easier for them. Those breakthrough moments made me grateful for my education. I think about them every time I close a book. Some of them have excelled far and beyond beyond their grade levels, and some are still working. I like to think I was able to give something back to them, though, as they all changed my life forever.
Please, PLEASE link me to your awesome posts for today’s topic! I’ll come visit as soon as I can!
Oh, and can I just thank all of you? I hit 500 followers tonight, and could not be more thrilled! I love you all!