Reading Roots: Amy from Amy Reads

June 15, 2010

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.

15 Comments

  • Stujallen June 15, 2010 at 8:48 am

    some lovely answers from the lovely amy ,i love your site lay out beautiful ,all the best stu

    • Carina June 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Thank you! Nice to have you over to visit, I see you commenting over at Amy’s quite often. This was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about her. 🙂

  • zibilee June 15, 2010 at 11:09 am

    You know, looking back, I don’t have that many memories of being read to or reading. I’ve just always been a bookworm, and recently, talking to some old friends, they mentioned that I always had my nose in a book. I hadn’t remembered that. Amy, I agree with your tips on how to get young readers interested in reading. My kids are big readers, and I think a lot of your ideas are things that I have done. Great interview! I am going to have to continue following this series!

    • Amy June 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

      Phew, I’m glad to hear that my thoughts actually work zibilee! I of course have no kids to base my assumption on 🙂

  • Carrie, Reading to Know June 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    This is a really great idea! I love this thought. (I came over from Amy Reads to check out your idea for this new feature.) Very nifty concept.

    • Carina June 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      Thank you! I’m excited that you just used the word “nifty”. 😉

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  • Andi June 15, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    GREAT idea! I love Amy’s blog and as a teacher I really appreciate this feature. I taught high school for a year, I’ve been teaching college for about 7, and I have two teen stepkiddos and a newborn. Whew! In short, I try my best to let my kids and my students see me reading, and when I’m teaching I always try to make choices that will teach the students something AND be enjoyable. I hate the idea that something I do might turn them off.

    • Carina June 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm

      I agree, I would much rather have students read something that they enjoy while still learning, than try to force them to read something that they don’t enjoy, and turn them off of reading entirely.

    • Amy June 16, 2010 at 11:44 am

      I wish I had a teacher like you! 🙂

  • Trisha June 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    What a brilliant idea! And I totally agree with Amy about English classes. It seems many English teachers in high schools make reading a bit painful.

    • Carina June 15, 2010 at 11:28 pm

      I never realized that when I was in school, because I guess I lucked out and always had teachers that tried to get us to love reading. Since then, though, I’ve definitely seen or heard of teachers who didn’t quite encourage that fun aspect of reading, and it always saddens me.

  • Iris June 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I was a huge fan of Harry Potter too! After book 3 however, my sister was suddenly considered the bigger fan and so she usually received the books as a gift. But the last few books were released in English on my birthday and so my parents decided to resume the tradition of gifting them to me.

    I really liked finding out about your reading habits as a child, Amy. Oh, and I think this is a lovely series Carina.

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