Reading Roots: Ana from things mean a lot

May 10, 2011

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”.

Today, I’m interviewing Ana from things mean a lot. Let’s explore her 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”?

My earliest reading memories all involve mythology and fairy tales – I vividly remember reading picture book versions of them, and before that looking at the illustrations for hours at a time when I was still too young to know how to read. I’m sure that this early reading diet is part of why I love mythology, folklore and fairy tales to this day, and of why I became a fantasy reader later in life.

My parents are both readers, but they never really had the habit of reading to me. I suspect that their example still encouraged me to read, though, as did the fact that there were always book around at home. They would also frequently buy me books, both for Christmas and for my birthday and often just because.

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 was definitely not reluctant! I’ve always thought of myself as a reader, really, though looking back now I realise that I didn’t read as widely as many other children. I was a reader who would read the same books again and again because I didn’t have access to more. There was no public library in my town, and despite my parents’ generosity they could only afford so many books (books are very expensive in Portugal, and there are very few used bookshops. And these were, of course, the days before Amazon). But when I was eight my family moved and I had to change schools. My new school had a wonderful little library where I spent many pleasant hours. There was no librarian, but there was at least a room full of books for me to explore.

Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?

I think I’ve more or less replied to this when answering the previous questions – oops! I was a big re-reader, for the reasons stated above. These days I don’t re-read books very often, and it’s something I actually really miss. And I was a mythology and folklore geek, which continues to this day.

Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?

I’d read anywhere, really. In my room, in the car, in waiting rooms for dentist appointments, you name it. I adopted the habit of always carrying a book with me early and it has served me well to this day. As for books I particularly remember, the illustrations of my aforementioned mythology and fairy tale books are still imprinted on my mind! I guess this goes some way towards explaining my blog’s header.

How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?

I started out with myths, legends and fairy tales, moved to fantasy and gothic novels as a teen, and read a little bit of everything these days. Blogging has certainly helped with this, as it introduced me to genres I wouldn’t have considered trying before. But I find that more than moving away from a reading phase to another, what the passing of time has done is increase the amount of things I love. I still love all the things I loved when I was younger; I just love other things in addition to those now. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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?

As a librarian in training at a time when libraries are facing serious threats, I’m going to have to say libraries, libraries, libraries. Not just their mere existence, of course, but the act of taking a child there, of letting them approach books on their own terms, of giving them the freedom to explore and discover what they like. I think nothing diminishes the sense of distance that people can feel towards literature as much as that. And people who feel that books are not for them are not likely to ever become lifelong readers. I did become a reader despite not having had access to a library while I was growing up, but I think my childhood would have been infinitely richer if I had.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Ana 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!

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