TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Editor’s Note: Readers are Leaders is an initiative of First Five Nevada County, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and Tahoe Truckee Reads to increase reading proficiency of the community’s young children. This is the fourth in a series about reading’s impact in the lives and careers of local leaders. Find the first installments at www.tahoedailytribune.com, search “Readers.” The following is an interview with Eileen Fahrner, principal, Kings Beach Elementary.
Q: Is reading important in your life/career? How so?
A: I couldn’t get by without reading in my career. I love to read what our students write, first and foremost. I love to read books about my profession to help me get better about my job. Most of the books I read in my profession are about what our students are going through and how to help them. Lastly, when I get up early in the morning or am going to bed at night, I love to read novels; they help me relax and get ready for the challenges of a new day.
Q: What is your favorite children’s book — past or present?
A: A book that I loved to read with my own children was “People,” and I think it was written by Captain Kangaroo. It talked about how similar we all are, even though we might look very different from one another. I loved reading anything by Roald Dahl!
Q: If you were snowed in at a backcountry hut, what reading material would you want to have with you?
A: If I were snowed in, I would like to have a survival guide of some kind so that I’d make it through to the thaw! After that, I would enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s work and the list of best sellers I have lined up to read on my Kindle.
Q: Why do you think readers are leaders?
A: Reading helps one gain perspective. In order to be a good leader, you need to be thoughtful, and reading helps to fill your brain with all kinds of thoughts! Reading helps you gain access to solutions when problems arise. Instead of just having your own thoughts or those of the folks who surround you, you are able to gain a wide range of choices by just opening an article or a book.
Q: Where is your favorite place to read/when is your favorite time to read?
A: I love to read in my living room, especially early on a Sunday when everyone else is sleeping in. I love to read the newspaper in our kitchen, sitting in a super cozy chair, with a delicious cup of hot coffee next to me on the table. It took me a while to get used to reading the Sacramento Bee on line, but I love it now. It looks just like the paper copy with less waste. On occasion I still like to read a hard copy — to feel the newsprint and smell the ink. It reminds me of my youth when my mom and dad read the San Francisco Chronicle religiously.
Q: What is your child’s favorite book and why?
A: When we would go on long family road trips, especially during the summer, I would read aloud to my husband and my kids. “The Trumpet of the Swan,” “The BFG,” and “Matilda” were some of our favorites. In addition to helping us pass the time, we had lively conversations about the characters, the plot, the setting — you name it.
When my older son was sick, we read “The Cay,” “The Outsiders,” and the first two of the Harry Potter books. In addition to the shared love of reading and enjoying the stories, the books helped us to pass the time while waiting for appointments or going on long car rides to the city. They allowed us to escape into another reality. My youngest son loved the Chronicles of Narnia series, “Enders Game,” and the Harry Potter books when he was young.
Now, he says, he doesn’t have time for nonfiction, so he reads about insects a lot! It helps him to work on his PhD in forest entomology.
Q: What is your favorite character in a book and why?
A: In general, I would have to say that any character who shows perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, is always a favorite of mine. Books that come to mind are “Wild” and the “Power of One,” where I would say that I don’t know that I could have done what the characters did — and survived.
Ruth Jackson Hall is an Early Learning Coordinator with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.