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April 28, 2023

To have a love of reading is a powerful thing: Rachel Davis | My Bookmark

Rachel Davis (she/her) is a community engagement associate in Reading Partners Tulsa. When Rachel first started her literacy journey, she wasn’t too excited about picking up books. In fact, she remembers hiding under her kitchen table at age six so her mother couldn’t catch her and make her read. 

polar bear polar bear what do you hear, powerful thingBut soon enough, she began to think of reading as something that made her feel “immersed, peaceful, and comfortable.” When she thinks back to a book that shaped her early literacy journey, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? comes to mind as one story she can remember virtually every word from. Later on in her childhood, The Chronicles of Narnia became her new favorite book. 

Rachel’s literacy journey didn’t come without challenges. When she was young, she lived with undiagnosed dyslexia. “I really struggled as a reader for a long time, but I loved stories and pictures,” she says. “So, I surrounded myself with books even when I couldn’t really read them, and my mom made sure to read to me as often as she could.”

chronicles of narnia, powerful thingIn high school, Rachel finally got a diagnosis for her dyslexia and was able to learn how her brain worked when she read. “My love for books exploded and I haven’t stopped reading since. Now my shelves can’t keep up with all the books I have, and I seem to be working on at least four books at once all the time!”

In thinking about what books she wished were around when she was a kid, one topic comes to mind: “Books that spoke about big feelings, and made those conversations easier to have at home.” 

Today, there are so many picture books on emotional intelligence. These kinds of books are so important because they give kids the vocabulary they need to communicate their feelings. 

For young people, books can be a source of empowerment. “It’s such a powerful thing to have a love for reading,” Rachel says. “For lots of students, being able to share a love for books is a way to connect and make friends, to feel less alone. When children find books that they love, that they are passionate about, they can find other kids that also have this interest. I think that having a relationship with books builds up a child’s sense of self, and gives them a sense of confidence and identity.”

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