My journey with literature began at a very young age.  Reading was a crucial part of my family’s daily life, so the transition to become an avid reader myself was seamless at first.  In my early teen years, I gorged myself with books, reading entire novels on a single Saturday and staying up far past bedtime to read by the light of my flashlight.  As I entered the heart of my adolescence, however, my adjusting tastes coupled with the rigorous reading lists of honors and AP English classes wore out my love of literature.  Reading, to me, became about performance rather than enjoyment.

I still had glimpses of my former love.  I could remember the ways that books could consume me, but I began to think of reading like the magic of Christmas; as a child, the holiday seemed whimsical and magical, but each year as I grew older was a letdown compared to the image in my mind.  Books became the same.  I could still reread books to get that experience, like Alice and Wonderland, (see Journey Book Voicethread), but few new books gave me the same experience.

When I entered college, I began I search for books to read that would grab my attention.  I tried reading books in multiple genres, and after much trial and error, I discovered that my evolving taste were leading me towards literary nonfiction titles.  There is something about real life that, to me, can be so much more bizarre and fascinating than fiction.  I majored in magazine journalism, and my writing and my reading became even more intertwined.

After graduation, my interest in language along with my love of kids and learning lead me to pursue a degree in education.  Taking this class, I hope, will provide me a wider repertoire of literary experience and interest that will make me a more effective English educator.


Professional Self:

My undergraduate degree is in English writing with an emphasis on literary nonfiction.  I did internships and summer jobs in both working with youth and working with words, but never together.  Since graduation, the only teaching experience I have thus far is as a paraprofessional in a kindergarten class.  I look forward to taking my experience with kids and with literacy and combining them in meaningful ways.


Literate Self:

I bring very little experience with Young Adult Literature to the table.  As I mentioned before, reading in my teen years was characterized by required reading, and since then I’ve been captivated by memoir, literary journalism, and biography.  I’ve read very few books in the genre thus far, but I look forward to broadening my literate self.


Virtual Self:

Being in my early twenties, it has been impossible to avoid being engaged with my virtual self in this digital age.  I have been involved in social networking and blogging throughout my teen and young adult years, but it’s only since I started at North Carolina State that my virtual self has really been challenged.  I’ve been asked to learn new programs and web 2.0 tools that will enhance my teaching of English, and I look forward to more challenges in this class.



Professional Self:  I hope, with this class, to become better versed in what interests my future students.  I have been relatively removed from their world for several years now, and I’m looking forward to learning, through books, how to reach each of my students.

Literate Self:  Recently, I have been reading a very small variety of books.  I hope to expand my repertoire so that I can knowledgeably engage with students and other teachers about a wider selection of writing.

Virtual Self:  In this class, I already know that I will be challenged by what is asked of me digitally.  I hope that I can continue my development into a digital native.  I look forward to new ways that I can merge my professional self with my virtual self through developing a strong virtual identity.



In writing my pre FOKI, I discovered my lack of experience with young adult literature.  I struggle to recall even one title that I’ve read that would fit into the genre.  I’ve read children’s novels, classic novels for school, and the kinds of books I’ve been interested in as an adult.  Going into teaching, however, it is crucial that I can relate to the kinds of reading that my students enjoy.  Through this FOKI, I truly discovered my need for this class to be an effective teacher of teens.



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5 responses to “Pre FOKI

  1. Blakely

    I’m jealous of your familiarity with non-fiction! This is an area of weakness for me. I know that many teens share your love of non-fiction (and your fascination with the weirdness that is real life). I’d love to get some recommendations for non-fiction reading from you!

    • Blakely-
      I agree–I do think more people (teens included) enjoy nonfiction than we often think! My favorite authors are David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers. Check out anything by either of them. I also love Micheal Paterniti’s “Driving Mr. Albert.” I’ve read it several times–it’s a bizarre story of the man who ends up keeping the brain of Albert Einstein! Hope that helps!

  2. Cris

    I’m so happy to find someone who adores literary nonfiction, Hannah. Often students prefer nonfiction but it’s usually the more pedestrian type — self-help and what’s in the news (‘course I love this, too). Few recommend David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, or Michael Paterniti. And I think it’s because few of us have studied literary nonfiction and really know what’s there to be enjoyed. Every class when we study YA nonfiction, we always conclude, as you have, that there’s just something particularly compelling about stories that are real!

    Here’s a link to the fairly new nonfiction award from the American Library Association’s YA division — I’m sure you’ll find a title here you’d like to pitch for a nonfiction book club.

    I’ll be curious to know if you’ve run across creative nonfiction and what you might think of it.

  3. Blakely

    I haven’t read Michael Paterniti, but I’ve read a couple of David Foster Wallace’s essays. And I really enjoy Dave Eggers’ work. I actually got to meet him when I was living in Seattle. I was involved with his non-profit writing center (826) and he gave a small talk/Q&A for some of the volunteers. He was *so* nice! If you ever have a chance to get involved with 826 (or meet Dave Eggers) I highly recommend it! I also LOVE his “Best American Non-Required Reading” series. In fact, now that I think of it, a lot of those short stories/essays/pieces would be great for high school students…

    You know, until we started having this “bloggersation” I wasn’t equating personal essays – or even literary non-fiction – with YA non-fiction. I was definitely thinking of the “more pedestrian” non-fiction Professor Crissman referenced.

    But now that my brain has been jogged, I can see that there’s a whole world of engaging non-fiction I can tap into. Sarah Vowell’s historical essays are hilarious and wonderfully in-depth explorations of people and events of the past, and they are definitely YA-friendly. David Sedaris is, of course, magnificent. Annie Dillard and Joan Didion are two of my favorites and I have a feeling students would enjoy them, too.

    Thanks for getting me started thinking in new directions!!!!

  4. Cris

    Hannah and Blakely, you’ll definitely want to check out Frances’s PreFOKI and her social justice connection between Eggers’ Zeitoun and the gov’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

    And you’ll love this idea, Alison, former ECI 521 alum, developed a “This Teen American Life” using VoiceThread for her ALP.

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