November 28, 2022
Books are knowledge, adventure, and imagination: Christine Pannell | My Bookmark
Christine Pannell (she/her) is Reading Partners Baltimore’s community engagement director. Her first memories of reading are listening to the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book on cassette tape and sitting on her parents’ laps as they read stories to her and her older sister. Franklin the Turtle and the Berenstain Bears were some of their favorites.
When Christine got older, she started diving into longer books. “I loved the Magic Schoolbus series. The books were so fun to read with my sisters, and Ms. Frizzle was a really awesome character.” She also loved Black Stallion, an old book series that her mom gifted her once she started reading more on her own.
“Books have always been an important part of my life,” Christine says. “In elementary school, my sisters and I would have competitions to see who could finish their summer reading challenge at the library first (and get some great prizes too). My best friend and I would spend afternoons reading next to one another, and then make up new adventures to act out for the characters in the books.”
In middle school, Christine’s love for reading soared. “I remember sitting on my deck for hours reading Harry Potter, Goosebumps, Fear Street, and so many other chapter books.”
Today, Christine may not be able to spend entire afternoons flipping through her latest read, but she still finds opportunities to share her love of books with others. “I love going to my monthly book club to hang out with other women and chat about our book together–I get that same feeling of connection and community!”
Looking back, Christine realizes that many of the books she had access to as a kid didn’t show a diversity of families and people. “I love seeing children’s books now with different family dynamics or with main characters who are proud of their ancestry and race. Growing up, all the books I read had main characters that were white, and I didn’t get to experience these diverse books until much later in my life.” If you’re looking for books like these for your kids, this booklist and this booklist (curated by Christine!) are great places to start.
Christine believes that literacy is power. “Books are knowledge, adventure, and imagination. They can completely transport a reader to another place or time, make you reexamine your own beliefs or worldview, and help you understand life and humanity from other perspectives and in your own time/space.”
And if students have foundational literacy skills and access to a library of diverse books, they can unlock their full potential.
“Through reading, young students can experience so much, learn to think critically about what they’re reading, and have a broader understanding of the world around them,” Christine says. “All this is needed to empower students and set them on a path to success.”