Reading Roots: Angela from Bookish Blather

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 Angela from Bookish Blather. 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”?

I have vague memories of looking over my mom’s shoulder as she was reading to me, and knowing that the little squiggles and shapes were words that I desperately wanted to know for myself! I also got it into my head at some point that 1st grade was when you officially learned how to read, so for the last few days of summer vacation between kindergarten and first grade, I stopped reading, and then after the first day of first grade I sat my mom and my little brother down and read a whole story from this Precious Moments Bedtime Stories book. My mom was a huge influence on my reading, as she read all sorts of books to me before I learned for myself, and she’s always been a big reader, too.

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 really remember not being a reader! I loved the reading parts of language arts classes, but hated anything to do with writing until I had a wonderful teacher in sixth grade who introduced weekly writing workshops that got me loving creating the written word as much as consuming it.

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

Only that I constantly need to have reading material with me. I will read ingredient lists on cereal boxes if I’m in a position where reading a book at the table would be rude. I always have at least one book in my purse, and back when I lived in a larger apartment (or my parents’ house), I’d be known to have books scattered throughout the house so I would never be far from a book in progress!

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

I wasn’t picky about where I read. I went through a lot of series as a kid. Baby-Sitters Club, Goosebumps and the Boxcar Children were big when I was in elementary school – the latter because my mom started finding them at Sam’s Club and she wanted to share a book series with me that she had read as a kid. In middle school I was all over the Animorphs book series and still have the whole series stored in a plastic box in my parents’ basement. I also had an old Helen Keller biography that I loved and read and re-read
until I lost it at play rehearsal one day. Looking back, it wasn’t actually the greatest biography (no mentions of Helen Keller’s feminist or socialist advocacy, for example), but it was my first introduction to this marvelous woman and fueled a life-long fascination with her.

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

Well, there was the commercial series phase (BSC, Goosebumps), and a horse phase (I read Marguerite Henry’s books because, again, my mom wanted to share books she’d read as a kid), and in about fourth grade I started on a huge WWII obsession when I read Anne Frank’s diary in combination with the local museum doing an Anne Frank exhibit and showing the 1959 movie. I was also a huge science fiction fan, both written and televised. Of all those phases, I still love discovering a new WWII-era novel, and absolutely love science fiction in all its forms.

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?

Trust kids. When they’re young we need to model reading as a leisure activity, not just something that is done during school. Once that habit has been established, we need to trust kids to choose their own reading material. Sometimes this means they’ll be reading “below” their age level. Sometimes it means they’ll read about a subject adults think is “dangerous.” Kids deserve both a chance to relax with a silly book as well as be challenged by a more difficult one, and they can’t do that if adults are hovering and judging and censoring their reading.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Angela 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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