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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

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The Reader That I Am: The Outsiders

I remember vividly protesting to my mother, hands on hips, the fact that my sixth-grade class had to read so-called “boy books” for our class project. I can remember sitting at my desk in my plaid blue Catholic school uniform, in the far back along the large open windows in order to avoid being seen by our strict elderly teacher as she slid a large black-rimmed scissor down the opening of a big red-striped Scholastic box. What that box contained was a massive and wonderful surprise—S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.

Ponyboy was the first protagonist I truly identified with—I recognized his love of English class and his observant nature toward his family and the outside world in myself, and I too loved and worried about Johnny and his gentle heart. The Outsiders was the first book I was invested in emotionally. But the most essential thing about The Outsiders that made me the reader that I am is that it was the first book I read again and again and again. I not-so-humbly believe rereading a book you love is the best part of the reading experience, and I read The Outsiders enough times between sixth and eighth grade to rip the cover off. I had forgotten what the cover looked like until a quick Wikipedia search showed a gaggle of boys looking out at the reader—with greaser hair! And I had forgotten the book was set in the 1960s! It felt so real and current to me, as if I could cross the tracks and sit down in Ponyboy’s living room. But I remembered without any help the moments that made me connect to this book, and most especially the surprising and satisfying ending. A writer’s ending. I don’t think I can describe how I felt when I learned S. E. Hinton is a woman. That girls—young girls (Hinton was 15 when she began writing The Outsiders)—could write about topics I’d only seen male authors tackle. It hadn’t occurred to me yet that I would want to write one day, but a new world had fundamentally shown itself. I am thankful to S. E. Hinton and Scholastic Book Clubs for making me the reader that I am.

Concetta Gleason is the administrative coordinator for Scholastic Book Clubs’ Club Leo/Spanish publishing. She is studying at the Instituto Cervantes New York and has a master’s in writing.

Share your own Book Club stories with us. Take a picture of yourself with a book that helped make you a reader and then use the hashtags #ReaderThatIAm and #BookClubStories on Twitter and Instagram.

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One Response

  1. Snoopy4180

    Este libro fue un libro que lei muchas veces.

    I read this book many times. When Hollywood made a movie based on this book, the movie was ALMOST as good as the one I saw in my imagination each time I reread it.

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