The first time I picked up a Shakespearean work I was in the third grade and I was at the public library with my mother. I was roaming the aisles looking for something with more meat than Ramona Quimby, not only because I had read all of the ones that were out, but also because my teacher told me that I had a high school reading level and so I had an inflated ego.
I remember pulling Romeo and Juliet off the shelf, and Twelfth Night making this really loud, quite obnoxious thud as it came down with it and fell on the ground. I remember the way it smelled, because to me, books, especially older ones, have this very distinct scent that me and many other bibliophiles have come to fall in love with. I remember opening it up and reading the iconic line “Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?” and then underneath “*Why are you called Romeo”. That moment was huge for me.
In that moment not only did I realize that I could read this book and have bragging rights that not many third graders had (I remember my teacher, Mrs. Pruitt laughing when I showed her what I had got) but I realized that in the crazy world of literature, words meant something different than what the reader initially thought. I realized that there was a whole world of books written by really, really old people that said things that meant something entirely different! And with that epiphany I decided to check it out. I put twelfth night back, and have yet to read it.
But ever since that day in third grade I have spent my days happily devouring whatever classic novels (and sometimes not so classic novels) that I can get my hands on, always choosing Shakespeare over anything else.
That one moment in the library shaped a large part of who I am today. And my mom allowing me to check it out (even though the librarian advised against it) opened the gates that led me down the path of English teacher-ism.
Wherefore art thou English Teacher?