In my job as a high school teacher, I spend a lot of time thinking about how few teenagers I see reading for pleasure. On the surface, this deeply saddens me, since I always found such enjoyment in reading when I was younger. Beyond that, though, is something even more sobering – I wonder how the reading habits of this generation are going to affect their literacy levels and success later on in life. It fascinates me to investigate the factors that make a child into “a reader” instead of turning them away from books once they are no longer forced to read for school. I’ve often wondered if we can use these factors to our advantage in encouraging kids to be readers.
It was these thoughts that brought me to deciding to start this (new) weekly feature, called Reading Roots. I’ve decided to interview a variety of book bloggers about their early reading influences and experiences, and share their answers so that we can all catch a glimpse of the “roots” that each person has built upon in forming their identity as “a reader”.
Today, I’m kicking off the series by interviewing Amy from Amy Reads. She writes one of those blogs that always has something interesting to say, and is really active tweeting and commenting around the blogosphere. Amy and I also have eerily similar tastes in books, which is definitely part of my curiousity into her reading journey.
Without any further ado, let’s explore Amy’s reading roots!
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”?
I don’t remember a lot from my early childhood – I have a really terrible memory. All of my family read though, including my parents, and they were always encouraging us to read. We weren’t allowed watching a lot of TV it was always go play outside, or go read a book. I often combined the two by going outside and climbing a tree with a favorite book – that kept the little sisters from bothering me so that I could really enjoy the book!
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”?
I don’t think there was ever a time where I didn’t consider myself a reader, but I was never a fan of language arts or English class. I loved to read, but I hated having to pick the story apart. I still have a lot of trouble reviewing fiction books because I find it hard to write a summary, or pick out points. I hated that about English class! (I was always more of a math nerd, to be honest!)
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
The only really interesting reading habits are covered in questions 1 (in a tree) and 4 (same book, different pages, with my youngest sister). Growing up though we had early bedtimes so I used to use a flashlight and read under the covers a lot. Now I can leave the lights on so I don’t do it anymore 🙂 I guess the only thing that I still do is get completely lost in a book. To the point that I don’t even hear people or notice what is going on around me.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
The books that I remember are The Baby-Sitters Club books (in French), the Thoroughbred books (my sister was a huge fan so we always had some lying around), and War and Peace. War and Peace probably is the most surprising but I actually read it in grade 7 or so (though skimmed the more philosophical parts!) and everyone thought it was so funny. Another series I distinctly remember are the Harry Potter series because my youngest sister and I were huge fans and one of us would get the book – so we would lie beside each other on the couch, each of us with our own page open, reading at the same time!
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
When I was little I would read most anything that was around the house, and keep re-reading when there wasn’t anything new. My reading tastes have definitely developed in that I am only just reading a lot of the ‘children’s classics’. And I read a lot more non-fiction now than I did as a kid!
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 think the most important thing is to read around your kids. They pick up from what adults around them do. Also, make sure they have choice – they might not like what you read, but there are so many books out there. Don’t judge what your kid reads, just let them read what they want, and try to get them reading outside their comfort level too.