Armchair BEA 2012: My Life With Books

Posted June 6, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 11 Comments


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!

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11 responses to “Armchair BEA 2012: My Life With Books

  1. That’s absolutely fantastic! With a minor in Spanish, I’ve always considered teaching English to non-native speakers as a potential career. Wow. I seriously got the chills when I was reading this! I just love those feel-good stories, and this definitely sounds lie one of them! Those kids are so lucky to have you.

    Oh, and a HUGE congrats on 500 followers!

  2. Awwww this is so sweet! I worked a week one summer in an international camp helping with the children – technically I was there with a family who had two autistic boys and I helped because they wanted someone the boys would know around if there were problems – but we had 3 little french kids, and I was the only adult who knew French well enough to translate. I had so much fun bonding with them and helping them with their English (and them helping me with my French!) I can’t imagine what it would be like to work with children like that all the time!

    Thanks for sharing with us :) And congrats on 500 followers :D

  3. I love this so much. It actually made me a little teary eyed. I appreciate people like you so, so much, who take the time to work with kids. I have small children and while I can rest at night knowing that my kids can speak the language in their schools and are learning to read at a good pace, there’s so many parents out there who must worry so much about their kids. I know you probably must help a lot of those parents sleep better at night.

    Thanks for stopping by my Armchair BEA Networking Post!!

  4. I admit I got a little teary reading that posting. Wonderful work!! I love an inspirational story, they make me cry but it’s nice seeing people caring and making a difference:D


  5. Awesome story! And nice to meet another Utah book blogger! Hopefully we’ll have another get together soon and meet in real life! :)

  6. I absolutely LOVE that you volunteered to teach kids! It’s something that I want to do as well, and you’ve inspired me to try and see if I can!