Posted weekly on Tuesdays, Reading Roots features a variety of book bloggers talking about their early reading influences and experiences, letting us catch a glimpse of the “roots” that each person has built upon in forming their identity as “a reader”.
What is your earliest memory involving books or reading? How were books, reading, and literacy approached in your childhood home? Were your parents or other family members “readers”?
One of my earliest memories of reading was in the first grade. I had moved to a new school halfway through the year, and their academic program was further along than that of the school I had come from. I remember my mom telling the teacher that I was an advanced reader, and the teacher replied with something along the lines of “advanced at that school is not the same as advanced at our school.” The teacher gave me a reading book and told me to see how far I could get. I sat in the reading corner for a couple of hours while the other kids worked on their lessons and read through the entire first grade reading book.
It was so satisfying to hand the book to the teacher and tell her that I was done and see the surprise on her face. She said, “With the whole thing?” and when I answered, “Yes” I heard the teacher’s assistant whisper to her, “I told you we should have just put her in the advanced reading group.” I don’t think I would even remember that if the teacher hadn’t been so judgmental and condescending.
Did you enjoy language arts/English classes as a kid, or were you more of a reluctant reader? When did you first consider yourself “a reader”?
Even though I enjoyed reading from a young age, I don’t remember becoming obsessive about it until the fifth grade. At that point my new best friend was also a reader and we used to get a little competitive about our reading stats. From that point on I have devoured books.
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
I don’t about habits for actually reading, but I have always loved organizing my books. Even as a youngster I would completely lose track of time (to the point of missing meals) while I organized my books. And yes, I am still that way now. When I decided to organize my books by color this year (which was quite a departure for me) I lost track of time and spent three hours on it before I remembered to look at the clock and see that I was late to get dinner started.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
In the winter time I loved to read on my parents’ bed. It was so comfortable and was the brightest and warmest of the bedrooms in the winter (because the chimney ran through it). In the summertime I preferred my room which was the coolest in the house. I used to listen to a station that played music from the 30s and 40s in the summer while I read in my room.
There are so many favorites that I remember:
- Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg – the first grownup sci-fi book I read, spurring a love of sci-fi to this day.
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – a gift from a relative, it was my first really nice leather hardcover book.
- The Narnia series – read over and over again, especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Anne of Green Gables series – read in junior high (and swooning over Gilbert)
- The Little House on the Prairie series – read in grade school
- Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green – Made me cry and cry each time I read it.
- The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom – the first WWII book I read.
- Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander – I loved time travel books from a young age. I remember giving an oral book report on this one in the fourth grade and thoroughly confusing the class.
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen – A novel of survival in the wilderness – I’m pretty sure this is the one that turned me on to survival books.
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
I think my reading tastes have expanded in that, though I tend to like the same genres now as I did then, I read a lot more new authors and titles now. When I was growing up I would find a book I loved and read it twenty or thirty times. Now I read one I like and try to find others that are like it, or read books by the same author. Of course I still love young adult books, especially since there is a far greater number of them published now then when I was a teen.
Bonus Literacy Question: If you have children, how did you encourage them (or how are you encouraging them) to become readers? If you do not have children of your own, what do you think is the most important thing to focus on in order to promote reading in the coming generations?
I encourage my kids to read by supplying them with a lot of books. I think a lot of the encouragement they get happens indirectly because I’m always going to the library to pick up books for myself, so they get to choose books too. They always see me reading, and know that nothing excites me like getting a book in the mail. We also participate in the library’s summer reading program, and since our library has a program for kids and adults, I participate as well.
The other thing we do is occasional “lessons” over the summer time. The boys have a couple of workbooks that we picked up from a homeschool store, and a few times a week they do some pages in the workbook and then have reading time afterward. Both of the boys seem to love reading, so this isn’t something that gets complaints, which has really surprised me.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Alyce as much as I did! If you haven’t read her blog before, I suggest that you go take a look.
See you next week for a look into the “roots” of another fantastic blogger!