Still Seeking Validation with Gold Stars Rachael Berkey

I almost fell off my bike once because my backpack was so weighed down by books that it nearly knocked me over. I didn’t have one of those handy – and practical – red wagons like Mara Wilson did when she played Matilda on the big screen.

But let’s be honest. At that age I was far too lazy to walk the mile to my library even if I was out of things to read. There had to be a bike to take me or a parent.

I only remembered this unfortunate meeting between myself and concrete the other day because I almost wiped out on the steps of my library with a full bag of books on one arm. On this particular day, I was stocking up for a weekend with Irene and had filled my purse with paperbacks, graphic novels and an incarnation of Enderverse of which I was previously unaware: Ender in Exile.

I had big plans for the big scary weekend that, in my particular neck of the woods, did not end up being all that scary. It was very scary for people near and dear to me and in surrounding communities, but I didn’t lose power, and my foresight to stock up on a lantern, batteries and lots of books was kind of for naught.

Now I have this big pile of books and a limited number of days to read them. And after the storm, I looked them over, remembered the occasion of my acquaintance with the sidewalk and said, “I accept this challenge!”

It’s my chance to have a do-over with a favorite pastime: the summer reading challenge. Yes, I know the summer is nearly over. That’s what makes it all the more fun.

I may even make myself a chart and buy some shiny gold stickers to mark off my finished books.

That was the best part of the game, wasn’t it? For me, it was running through the library (with a parent shushing me and telling me to slow down right on my tail) just to find my name on the community reading challenge board so I could add stickers to my row.

For all my voracious reading both then and now, I don’t think that was a reading prize I ever won. I wanted to every year. And I read a lot every year. But I never managed to read the books approved for my age group or that qualified which was a big bummer in my eyes. But man, did I love putting the gold stars next to my name.

There was something about the validation for everyone to see. It made me feel like that incredibly awesome experience of walking through the secret garden with Mary or going to the fair with Wilbur or getting to carry the flag with Charlie was something I could share with all the other kids in my community.

I want that again. I want the validation of reading a lot of books in a short time. I know the story, and the experience, and the feel of the paper between my fingers should be enough. And it really is most of the time.

But it’s the end of the summer, and I want to pile on the gold stars as fast as I can turn the page.

 

Image Credit JustDisaster Tumblr

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  1. I LOVE this story!! Every summer when I was young, my grandparents took me to the local library where they had the most AWESOME summer reading program for kids. Each year, the library picked a theme and gave each participant a base to place pieces of a puzzle. For every few books we read, we got a new puzzle piece to add to the base. When we were done, the librarians took our picture (a polaroid!!) and posted our completed puzzle in a prominent section of the library. For me, one of the best parts of the program was the puzzle pieces were blank (white with black outlines showing the theme), so each kid decorated their own puzzle, making each puzzle perfectly unique. I was SO proud when I finished each year and I SOOOOOOOO wish i could still participate now. Boo for being old. Thanks for the awesome story and ability to reminisce, Rachael!

  2. Anybody remember Book-It? Ahh…childhood memories! Reading books=getting free pizza…what more motivation does a child need? I still credit Pizza Hut for my love of books to this day. :-)

  3. I still use gold stars! How else would I be motivated to work out on a regular basis?

  4. I used to read so much when I was younger, ut now I just don’t know what to read any more. I’m up to date with most of my fave authors; Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwall, John Grisham, John Patterson. Anyone got any suggestions of good books to read? Travel or murder mystery preferred.

    Oh and yeah, I used to do the reading challenges at my local library when I was younger too. I don’t remember if I ever won anything though.

    • Have you read anything by Dorothy Sayers? She’s fantastic. Also if you like foodie travel books, A Hundred Nights in Venice is delicious.

  5. Ooooh I’m going to go buy myself some gold stars! I used to read, constantly, but stopped for years as was so busy with work, then a baby, and now running a blog and a business on top of work and a baby, but have recently starte d taking an hour out every evening to get some reading done, it soo wonderful to have slipped back into old book obsessed habits. I definitely deserve some gold stars :)

  6. I read less since I’m on twitter. I have to take at least one hour off only to read.

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