As a high school teacher, my eyes light up every time a teen picks up a book. Not only is it because I enjoy seeing my kiddos learn, but because it takes me way back to my time growing up in Puerto Rico, eagerly devouring books thanks to my family and my amazing English teachers.
I went to a small private school in Cupey, Puerto Rico, known as Cupeyville. I grew up in a humble and gorgeous neighborhood in Trujillo Alto, and recall many summer afternoons reading at the neighborhood park across from my childhood home, while I was a student at this school and had time off from the school year. Books truly saved me during these times and gave me the inspiration to move forward, especially during those tough teenage years. I was a geeky little one, quiet at times, with a nose in an R.L. Stine mystery, a Baby-Sitters Club novel, or Sweet Valley High book, and always creative and dreaming about fictional worlds. The students at this small private school where quite privileged. While my parents struggled and work hard to keep me in that school, they did not seem to appreciate, some of them, the blessings they were provided by attending this elite private school. I was bullied, I was sidetracked, but I was always me. And, I found solace between the pages of books, which gave me ideas and heightened confidence. I will forever be thankful of books for this comfort and honor, and for the guts they provided me between the cover pages to find my own inner strength.
Fast forward to present day, and you can say books lit up my confidence. Just like Elizabeth Wakefield, who as a journalist in the Sweet Valley High books, I pursued journalism in high school at the school paper and beyond. While pursuing my bachelors degree in Universidad del Sagrado Corazòn in Puerto Rico, I worked as a young journalist at Casiano Communications and The San Juan Star. I won a scholarship to study my masters at Florida International University in Miami, and worked as an editor and writer at places like The Miami Herald and Where Magazine, as well as J-14 Magazine. I propelled forward, following my journalism career and love of writing, with books as my inspiration and guide, with the characters and their stories taking center stage.
Today, I educate students, and I am happy to provide books to my 10th graders, and I cherish the fact that I can give back and that thanks to my love of reading, I can educate others based on my experience and the magic that I found with books and stories. I feel like books have given me the guts to move forward, to learn from myself and others, and to grow as a writer and educator. I know for a fact that every time I write a book review, or a bookish story for one of the websites that I freelance for, that books are part of my heart and being. And, authors, are my friends and guides. And I appreciate this with all my heart.
So, do not be afraid to browse your favorite bookstore and dive into a book's fantastical and fictional world. Books are not only part of our comfort, but they also provide us with pure inspiration and growth as human beings. Thank you, mentors and family, for always putting a book in front of me during the darkest and the toughest of times, as a teen and even now. Books are a way of life, and a security blanket for creatives seeking inspiration and solace every day. This is why my bookshelves and my heart, will always be stacked to the brim.