York Community High School

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Ms. Kennedy-Brooks' Home Page

I've made the great migration. 

I will no longer be updating my School Loop pages. 

Please visit my GoogleSite for information about my current classes, Key Club and more! 

 

My Reading Autobiography

The members of the English department were recently encouraged to put together what we would refer to as our “reading autobiography”: to tell the story of ourselves as readers. Interestingly enough, this was an assignment that I had as a capstone in my undergraduate program as an English major. So…I had already done this. Unfortunately, the original included an 8-page bibliography and a 10-page essay. Seeing as how that seems a little excessive to post on my school webpage (even for an overachiever like me), below is my attempt at condensing my story.

 

What better place to start than the beginning. It all started I guess with my parents: Not just the physical beginning of me but the intellectual beginning of me. At the age of 23, my parents had a baby girl and not knowing much about life, let alone parenting just yet, decided to do what every ‘good parent’ is supposed to do—read to their children. And so they did. In their little tiny apartment, just blocks away from their parents’ homes, they began reading to me.  Every night they read to me and one of the most memorable parts of my childhood involves a rather large book entitled, 365 Bedtime Stories: A story for every day of the year about the children on What-a-Jolly Street by Mildred Gilbertson, who penned many children’s books under the pseudonym Nan Gilbert. I can still remember the big, old book (it belonged to my mother when she was a little girl) and its crisp, yellowed pages. I remember sitting in my dad’s lap with my brother Josh and listening every night to a story about Mrs. Apricot and all the children that lived on What-a-Jolly Street. Every night there was a different one-page story that corresponded with the time of year that the story was to be read.  I remember that I always envied my brother’s birthday story because his was about playing in a sprinkler.  In fact, while I am sitting here, I cannot even really think of what my own birthday story was. See, his really was that much cooler. I do not even remember the last time I picked up that old book but I would imagine it is in my dad’s house somewhere. 365 Bedtime Stories is something that I remember quite fondly and hope to read to my own children some day.

 

So here comes the amazing part, as my dad says. He, though not a reader himself, takes great pride in the love of reading that his daughter has had since a young age. Apparently my dad used to run his finger along the words as he read them aloud to us. One day, so the story goes, he did not do it and I, only 2 or 3 years old at the time, got upset that he did not. “Dad, why did you stop pointing at the words?” He did not have an answer. “Could you keep doing that so I can follow along?” I said. And so he did and eventually let me try. So it is documented somewhere that I started reading at the age of 3 and haven’t stopped since.

 

Another brief but fond memory of my childhood reading days was that of Big Bird and Little Bird’s Big and Little Book by Emily P. Kingsley. I remember reading that book over and over again with my dad. He would read the ‘big’ parts and I would read the ‘little’ parts. A simple concept but a cute little ritual that we had that made reading fun and not just a task. This is something that I have come to appreciate more and more and want others to realize too, which may be one of my chief goals as a teacher.

 

Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I got really into “chapter books” and became a voracious reader. Sending me to my room was NOT the punishment my parents hoped it would be because I would pout for a minute, but then would happily dive into a book and be content for hours on end. I remember, even as a child, staying up way past my bedtime to keep reading a book that I had gotten involved in.

 

High school was a rocky time for me—as it is for many—and so I used reading as an escape to learn about other people’s lives and envelop myself in the drama of their stories to forget about my own. This was so helpful for me and so I really encourage my students to embrace reading for pleasure as an escape from their own existence; I challenge them to make the time to read…for their own health, really!

 

Being the first person in my family to go to college and choosing to be an English major was probably one of the best things I ever did. It was at Eastern that I learned what it meant to experience literature with others. I have distinct memory of this occurring when I was enrolled in a class called “Love, Hate and Obsession.” In that class, I read the most intriguing books and it really gave me an introduction to what it was like to ‘feel’ literature with other people. I fell ardently in love with Winterson’s The Passion that semester. I remember from the moment I started reading it I was just completely engrossed and enveloped in the color of her language. The imagery, the way the words fell out of my mouth so effortlessly and how passages danced across my mind for days to come was something I had never experienced before. I remember countless times where I would interrupt friends, nudging them just to say, “Listen to this” and proceed to read aloud to them. I looked forward to going to class and just pouring out my thoughts and ideas to others who could think in such a way about something as ‘silly’ as a book. This was what being an English major was all about.

 

As an adult, despite my busy schedule and ever-pressing to-do list, I still make reading a priority in my life. I start every morning reading a bit from my Bible to remind me to keep a positive and loving attitude for the day. I sneak in a few minutes here and a few minutes there with whatever I’m currently reading when I’m waiting at a doctor’s office or before I turn in for the night (still making it through about 2-3 books a month during the school year). I am a member of a GenLit book club where I meet with other adults to talk about books and, of course, I read along with my students each semester.

 

The love of reading is something that I think can be fostered when you find the right books. I always tell my students, if you’re reading for fun and it isn’t fun…pick a new book. It is my hope that I can help my students to remember that they actually can and do enjoy reading and to help them develop that enjoyment into a life-long relationship that will still occasionally trump binge-watching an entire series on Netflix. 

Kennedy-Brooks, Brianne
English Teacher and Key Club Sponsor bkennedy-brooks@elmhurst205.org

Education

Undergraduate

Eastern Illinois University (2005)

B.A. in English, minor in family and consumer sciences, teacher certification

Graduated with Honors

 

Graduate

Benedictine University (2009)

M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Administration

 

National Board Certification (2013)

Adolescent and Young Adulthood English and Language Arts