In college, I did everything possible to find ways to sneak my favorite hobby, reading, into my class schedule. When I finally and hesitantly declared a Reading minor and an English for Elementary Education major, I remember thinking, "Is this really allowed?" A few years, degrees, and a hefty stint in a fourth-grade elementary classroom later, and I'm a Youth Librarian sitting in the library thinking, "Is this really allowed?" Indeed, I have managed to turn my hobby into a career, and that is absolutely allowed.
My time spent reading alongside nine-year-olds has left me with an undying appreciation for middle grade fiction. It's magical stuff. These authors crank out some beautiful work that covers incredibly real pieces of the human experience in such succinct packages. As a regular storytime provider, I also get quite enthusiastic about picture books and read alouds. I have served on the Michigan Library Association's Mitten Award Committee (an annual award given for outstanding picture books), so I take great joy in poring over picture books and admiring the way the illustrations complement the text. I will admit that I pick up fiction much more often than nonfiction, but in my defense, I've learned a lot more about our world from historical fiction novels than I ever did in history classes (sorry, teachers... I tried, I promise!). The wonderful reading peer pressure in my life comes mainly from my colleagues, but also from my mother, who has always been a voracious reader. In high school, she tore me away from Wuthering Heights and Harry Potter to force me to try a cheesy, paperback romance novel, insisting that I should always be open to new genres. I dutifully read it, but... that genre doesn't make my top five list today. I do enjoy dabbling in various genres, especially when they come recommended from a friend (or my mom).