Who I Am As A Reader

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I love to read. A lot of kids my age don’t like to read or would rather do a lot of other things. But not me! I actually, genuinely, like reading. I read because books are interesting, or at least the well-written ones are. Good books make you think about the ideas and characters while you’re reading. Great books make you think about the ideas and characters all through the day until you can get home and read and read and read. Another reason I read is for that sense of accomplishment when you finish a book. I feel that I have achieved something great every time I get to the last page of an amazing book. 

I always have multiple books “on hold” in my mind, waiting until I finish my current book, and have the time to pick up another. I am part of three monthly book clubs, Durham Book Club, a mother-daughter book club, and the book club at my school, which are places to get my next book to read. Sometimes, my mom will go to the library and get me bunches of books that I probably wouldn’t have picked myself. But when we have the books in the house, I feel more compelled to read books from different genres and of a higher reading level. Some of which I read or are reading right now are, The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-time, Flowers for Algernon, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Outliers.  

My favorite genres are realistic fiction, fantasy, and some historical fiction books. One of my absolute favorite historical fiction books is The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, The Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel. This book is a mystery about science, but also a historical fiction. Another great historical fiction book is The War That Saved My Life. This book is set in the time of World War II.  I used to not read a lot of non-fiction books, but I have been reading some more lately. I find reading non-fiction books feels a lot more like work and not as much of an enjoyable thing I would choose to do. However, one great non-fiction book I read is, Terrible Typhoid Mary, because it doesn’t feel like a fact-packed non-fiction book, more like a crime busting story, which made it more fun to read.

It’s really hard for me to read books on electronic devices. The way the words seem to pop on the screen and the glow of the device make it not feel like a real book. My eyes and brain aren’t able to focus on the “pages” like they do on a paper book. I also have a hard time listening to audio books. My brain starts to wander and I zone out. By the time my thoughts return to the book I’m listening to, I’ve missed half the story! The only way I can listen to people reading me books is when I can see the pages of the book and follow along as they read. 

My goal is to read one hundred books this year. That means I have to finish a book every three to four days. I keep an ongoing digital list of the books I have read which helps me track my progress with my goal. On my list, I will add one to three hearts, depending on how much I liked the book. 

Do you have any book recommendations for me? Comment! I would love to hear them!


Window and Mirror Books: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

Some books are mirrors and some are windows. Mirror books are books that you see yourself in, whether in the characters or the authors. Window books are books that let you see someone who isn’t like you and their perspective. It is good to read mirror books and window books, not just one or the other.

I recently read The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark the Haddon. I think that this book is a window book for me because the protagonist, a fifteen year old boy named Christopher, is not alike to me in many ways, other than being a human. Christopher has Asperger’s syndrome, which I do not have. This book is written in first person so it really helped me understand what might be going on in a person with Asperger’s head. Christopher is a boy, which I am not. He is also fifteen, another trait which I am not. Christopher’s parents are separated, but my parents live together. Christopher also really loves math, science, and reading books about math and science. At the end of the book he takes the A-level math tests. I like some kinds of math and science and love reading. This is one example of how this is a mirror book for me. 

Sometimes, books can be mirror books and window books. However, I called this book a window book, because Christopher and I have more things that are different than the same. I think I read more window books because I like to see other people’s perspectives that are more interesting than mine. One book that would be a mirror book for me is a book starring an Indian-American girl who’s entire personality isn’t just being Indian! 

The Story Of How I Got My Fish

My fish tank with my five fish. Can you see them?

This is the story of one girl’s courageous story to get fish. (The girl is me.)  For years, I begged my parents for a dog, a pet. I got my brothers on board. I researched dozens of animals and breeds. First dogs, then guinea pigs, parakeets, hamsters, cats, rabbits, hedgehogs, turtles, tarantulas, and fish. I  asked every birthday, every Christmas. But for years the answer was the same: “We can’t take care of it” “I’ll end up doing all the work” While the responses I received were discouraging, I kept trying different persuasive tactics. So finally, two years ago, my parents agreed to….

a fish. While it may seem like a meager animal, it was a huge step forward in my pet campaign. On Easter, my mom and dad told us kids to search for the Golden Egg. When we revealed the plastic egg, nestled under our rusty wheelbarrow, we were in for a great surprise, a note that said “We’re getting fish!” and pictures of fish.

Betta fish were the fish we had decided on. Bettas are beautiful fish with long swishing tails and colorful fins. However, our excursion to the pet store was a rude awakening as we realized just how much work, time, and money a mere fish could be. We were faced with a seemingly never-ending list of things we had to buy. But a promise is a promise so we bought a twenty gallon tank, a filter, a heater, a bag full of pebbles, and a light. It all sat in our basement collecting dust for two years as my dreams of fish evaporated. I started to think I would never get a fish. 


Then one day, my friend Eloise came over. Eloise has fish and she knew how much I wanted a pet.  We must have felt especially motivated that day because we hauled all the fish equipment up the basement stairs and started to assemble it. It was a tediously complicated process. We flipped through dozens of those tiny instruction packets, we google searched everything, and we did it! The fish tank had pebbles and fake plants, with three wires coming out of it: the light, the filter, and the heater. 


As my family and I did some more research on Betta fish we found that they were aggressive fish, no matter how mesmerizing, and loved to bite at each other’s tail. We had a twenty gallon tank that could fit six betta fish. We would have to get only female fish; it’s called a sorority. The other choice was to get just one male betta fish, which we were told was a much more first-time-pet-owner- friendly selection of fish.  That’s when we started to contemplate only getting one betta fish.


Our tank sat without water for a few months before we filled it up. We traveled back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room with big gallon size pitchers to fill it up. The people at the fish store told us we would have to let the tank sit with the filter on for a week or two. We added conditioning and turned the filter and heater on. I’ll be honest, the sound took some getting used to. We had some little obstacles and hiding spots for the fish to play in, in the tank. Even without the fish, I thought the tank was good decor. 


Then after a couple days, something weird started happening. The water in the fish tank was turning yellow! We weren’t sure what was causing this but we had an idea. There was this long piece of fake wood inside and we thought it might be releasing toxins or something. We took the wood out and soaked it in a separate bowl of water. We had to change out all the water with clean water. After the wood stopped releasing the yellow things, we put it  back in and there were no problems. 


Our cycle had been running for a week and we decided to go into the fish store. My brothers and I had been begging all weekend. The fish store tests  your water for free to see if it is ready for fish so we brought in a  sample of our water. It was full of aquariums, saltwater and freshwater, giant fish and ones that glow in the dark. The bettas were in these small plastic containers and some of them looked like they were dead but the pet store employees said they usually sold out in a week and then they got big fish tanks. Our bettas were going to be the main fish in our fish tank, we could also get some smaller fish. Unfortunately, the fish store people said that our water wasn’t ready and we had to wait another week.


One week later, we came back to the fish store and they gave us the thumbs up to get fish. They told us to get some smaller fish first before we got our bettas or else the bettas would eat them. My brother and I selected five of these cute little fish called neon tetras and three aquatic snails called nerite snails. The guy put them in these bags and told us to let the bags sit in the tank for fifteen minutes before we put them in. My brother and I each got to hold one bag. I was so excited! It might seem silly to be so happy about a small thing like fish but I had been waiting so long to get them! 

When we got home we rushed to the tank and put in our fish. We waited fifteen minutes before we put them in. I  jumped up and down as our first pets swam around and explored their new homes. Even now every time I walk past the tank, I stop and admire our fish and find our little snails hiding spots. It took a lots of time (and we haven’t even gotten our bettas yet) but I am so glad we got our fish.

Camp Kirkwood

On August 30 at 8:30 am, Durham Academy’s sixth grade set sail, or rather bus, towards Camp Kirkwood, a YMCA overnight camp. The 3 day long excursion was intended to kick off the school year and help everyone bond and get to know each other better. Because of Hurricane Idalia and the heavy rains that would hit the area while we were there, it had been uncertain to the last minute if the trip was still on. We hauled our multitude of duffels and backpacks into the trunks of the buses, though unequipped to hold this much luggage. The three buses were crammed from back to front with one hundred or so middle schoolers, with no entertainment for two and a half hours. What could go wrong? Friends were waved to seats from the aisles, chatter and gossip were exchanged, snacks were passed from hand to hand, no doubt contaminating us with some foreign disease that caused us to belt Taylor Swift songs at the top of our lungs for the remainder of the ride. 

We arrived and gobbled a lunch of unsatisfactory grilled cheese and ham sandwiches and were introduced to our cramped but cozy cabins. Beds were made, sleeping situations were negotiated, and advisors were driven crazy. 

There was a multitude of activities at Camp Kirkwood, some of them needing to be modified or canceled all together because of our weather conditions, but among those were some favorites: The V Swing, Bubbles the pig, the zip line, the KangaJump, the night hike to s’mores, and the pool. The V swing was a thrilling attraction in which you were pulled up 30 to 40 feet in the air by your activity mates and swung back and forth through the middle of the woods. You could choose how high you went and it was so entertaining watching our teachers try it out. Bubbles the pig was (you guessed it!) a pig. We got to pet Bubbles while she ran around the Gaga pit with a ball. The zip line was another daredevil activity. We zipped across the canoe lake with our friends, one the many highlights of our last day. Each of the activity groups was able to play in the pool two times. We rolled on and off of water obstacles and dove in holding hands. Even though the pool wasn’t ideal temperature and there was light rain we, in typical sixth grade fashion, made the best of it. 

One of the best parts of Camp Kirkwood is getting to make lots of new friends and strengthen bonds with old ones. We were exposed to a variety of people in activity groups, not to mention having to live with fourteen other kids for three days. I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates really well and definitely set a good tone for the rest of the year.

The night hike was on our last evening, through the woods. It was pitch black and there were puddles and all sorts of obstacles on the way. There was a sort of chillness and calm in the air. A feeling of peace and a wisp of spookiness. We walked two by two in complete silence. When we reached the amphitheater, we had a delightful treat of perfectly roasted marshmallow and gooey chocolate  in between graham crackers. It was the perfect last night to end our camp experience. 

In conclusion, even though we didn’t have perfect conditions, I can say with confidence that it was a trip no one will ever forget.