Reading History Interview #1:
Mr. Dave Lauten
Below is our first interview with a Meadowbrook faculty member about her or his relationship with reading over the years. Mr. Lauten, longtime 5th grade teacher and current Middle School English teacher, met with Mr. Tahmaseb to discuss his personal history with books.
Mr. T: Was there a particular person (or multiple people) in your life that sparked a love of reading? If so, who were they and what did they do? If no one else really encouraged you, how did you develop a love of reading on your own?
Mr. L: At bedtime, my mom read The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting and Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers to me and my sister, who is two years older. I look back on those bedtime stories as one of those early magical times when you realize words can create entire worlds. This seemed to me to be such a powerful, wonderful thing. Also, I attended a Waldorf School, so I had the same teacher for five years, and one of my teachers read aloud The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved that one, too.
Mr. T: Did you (or do you) ever spend time reading in libraries? Why/why not?
Mr. L: I go to libraries all the time to work, not to read. I enjoy the quiet work environment that libraries offer because I can’t get any work done at home. I read at home, though sometimes I’ll go to Starbucks.
Mr. T: What did you enjoy reading as a young child?
My favorite book as a young child was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I read it for the first time by myself and I was completely taken away. It felt like magic. I loved it.
Mr. T: What did you enjoy reading as an adolescent?
Mr. L: I had some good English teachers in high school. I remember reading and loving Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain in 8th grade. It was a tough book in some ways, but my teacher at the time knew when to point out when things were funny. There was something about that mix of humor and pathos that was genius. I knew not everybody could pull that off. I loved how Huck, as narrator, would reveal a truth without realizing it.
Mr. T: What do you enjoy reading now?
Mr. L: Now, when school’s in, I like to read short stories because they’re manageable. The last novel I read was Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. I like reading anything by Ron Rash, a writer from the South. Also, a friend recently recommended that I check out Stephen King, so I read a collection of his stories, two of which served as the inspiration for the films Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption.
Mr. T: Do you prefer to read books or e-books? Why?
Mr. L: (Laughs.) You know how I’m going to answer this question. I love books. I tried my wife’s Kindle one time and did not enjoy the experience. I like to know what page I’m on and being able flip back. I like holding the the book and using bookmarks. I like living in the company of books in my house.
Mr. T: Can you point to a specific book that changed your life in some way?
Mr. L: I haven’t read it since college, but Catch-22 by Joseph Heller was a big one for me. It taught me a little about not always having complete trust in authority. Also, the role that chaos plays is so interesting. Things just happen to characters in that book. It also had really edge humor in that book. That book was really something.
Mr. T: Do you have any particular books that you’d recommend to the Meadowbrook community (students, faculty, and/or parents)?
Mr. L: I have an author that I’d recommend to all teachers: the short stories of Tobias Wolff. He writes beautifully.
Mr. L at last year's Medieval Assembly.