Reading Roots: Cathy from Kittling Books

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 Cathy from Kittling Books. She’s even included some lovely pictures for us to look at! You can see any picture full-size by clicking on it, and you can see a description of the picture (including who is in it and the year it was taken) by hovering your mouse over it. Ane now, it’s time to get on with it … let’s explore Cathy’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”?

My earliest memory is being about three years old and watching my mother sitting in an ox blood red naugahyde recliner in our small apartment. She was reading a huge book, and the look of sheer pleasure on her face told me that I needed to learn how to read as fast as humanly possible.

Books, reading and literacy were never “approached” in my childhood home. My mother was the village librarian; we lived a matter of a few steps away from the library. Books were as common as underwear in our apartment– and every bit as important.My grandmother, mother and I were the voracious readers in the family. Before that, the women were farm wives, and evenings were spent sewing, crocheting, quilting, and doing a bit of fancy embroidery work.

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”?

The first thing I ever wanted to learn how to do was read. I have never in my life been a reluctant reader. As the caption on my blog header states: “Fire burns. Birds fly. Dogs bark. I read.” It’s always been something I’m predisposed to do. It goes beyond “being in the blood.” I think it’s in the bone!

To get back on track, I loved language arts and English classes in school. I also liked biology and history.

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

Not really, although I do think that’s where my selective hearing began. If I was in the middle of a particularly engrossing book, my mother said I was able to tune everything out– even the Apocalypse– and keep right on reading without missing a word. Am I still able to do that? Not really. I have a lot fewer demands on my time right now, so I’m able to read quite a bit. It would be rather rude to tune out what few interruptions I do have!

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

I had more than one. On my stomach on my bed in spring with the smell of honeysuckle wafting in through the open window. At the back of the library when all I could hear was Mom and a patron conversing quietly up front. In winter, at my grandmother’s kitchen table, smelling what she was cooking and looking out the windows at all the cardinals, blue jays and other birds out in the snow.

The first three books I remember are: Artie the Smartie; Hurry Up, Slowpoke!; and Sylvester the Mouse With the Musical Ear. I remember each cover and the synopsis of each one. Why do I remember them? Because they are the first three books I read all by myself. I was so proud I probably popped a button or two off the shirt I was wearing!

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

My reading life began by being very interested in the natural world. I devoured books about animals, plants and birds. I then moved on to horse books by Walter Farley, Sam Savitt and Marguerite Henry. Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books were huge favorites at roughly the same time. The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, an entire series of books called the Childhood of Famous Americans. About that time, I started the move to adult fiction.

When I was in high school, I began reading a lot of biography and history, and that carried me through college as well (where I read tons of classic literature). Somewhere in the 1980s, I started adding fiction back in: historical fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction. Then– just before the “turn of the century”– I began my love affair with crime fiction, and it’s still going strong.

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?

Cathy's grandmother (to the left)  and her older sister. Taken in the 1920s.For many years I was a trainer for my employer. I enjoyed it because I loved finding out what “turned the light bulb on” over each trainee’s head. There is a vast array of switches to turn on those bulbs, let me tell you, and some of them are difficult to find! To promote reading in the coming generations, we have to get them as early as possible. I know way too many people who learned to hate reading as children because reading was approached as being a chore. Most of us do not enjoy chores. In fact, we run in the opposite direction when we hear the word. The message that reading is fun, that reading is enjoyable, has to be spread and seen to be true.

While we’re trying to get that fun message across, we are so lucky to be able to have a variety of media available to hook children on reading. There will be those who prefer paper books– being able to hold them and look at the illustrations carefully. There will be those who love gadgets and want to get their hands on eReaders. There will be those who may have some sort of reading disability like dyslexia, and those will love being read to by their parents or by the narrators of audio books. Lots of people in the publishing industry seem to be scared to death, but I truly feel we’re entering a time of such wonderful possibility with all the different ways to be able to read a book. All we have to do is prove how enjoyable it is!

I hope you enjoyed learning about Cathy 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!

17 thoughts on “Reading Roots: Cathy from Kittling Books”

  1. I really enjoyed your questions. It was fun to know how deeply rooted reading is in her home. I am trying to do this by first stuffing my shelf with books, so that my children would be forced to look and perhaps read. Thanks for this interview.

  2. I’ve been reading Cathy’s blog for quite some time and I thought I “knew” her. This was an excellent look at those early influences that makes for a lifelong reader.

    It was also nice to learn that Cathy has only been obsessed with crime fiction for a decade, not her whole life. I also liked the “light-bulb” analogy. Very true.

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