Reading Roots: Helen from Helen’s Book Blog

March 29, 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 Helen from Helen’s Book Blog. 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”?

Reading has always been a big part of my family’s life. My dad is a huge reader, with many books going at once. My maternal grandparents and all my aunts and uncles are teachers, so reading a lot was expected at home. I have very strong memories of reading in elementary school; we had this program where we progressed through colored levels of reading. I read quickly and so was rewarded by moving up more quickly than other students. Unfortunately, I learned to read quickly, not thoroughly and this is still an issue for me today. When I have time, I read quickly through books, but, honestly I don’t retain the stories as well as I’d like.

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”?

Once I hit junior high I was more of a reluctant reader and went down the “jock” path. I liked to read, but didn’t really appreciate good literature. Actually, I am still not a fan of classics. I really started to be a better reader after college and graduate school when I found I had time to read for pleasure and I got to read what I want! And discovering YA lit was huge for me. Now I always have a book with me.

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

I am a boring reader; I don’t take notes, I don’t use post-its, I don’t really do anything except read the book (and now that I have a blog, write the review). I do usually have a glass of water near by, but if I have food, I get distracted by the food and eat instead of reading. I also don’t like the thought of getting food bits and smudges in my books.

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

As a kid, and now, I love to read in bed, there is just something about the warm cacoon of the duvet wrapped around me that makes me feel like I am really escaping reality and getting into the world of the book. Favorites from my childhood include: the Tintin series, the Asterix series (for years I thought a * was an asterix), the Little House on the Prairie series, the VC Andres books, and for very early books, Don Freeman (*Dandelion* in particular).

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

Hmmmm. As a child in elementary school I loved to read, but once I hit junior high and high school I really didn’t enjoy it that much. I think I was so busy with friends, swim team, student government and all that is high school that just reading the required English classes stuff (which I didn’t like all that much) was enough for me. In college I read a bit: mostly junk that didn’t take much thinking and in grad school I was swamped reading critiques, history, and doing research. In the last five years I’d say that I really started to read a lot. The great things is that I have discovered new genres (dystopian, YA, and more) through my job in the library and through book blogging. Now I can’t seem to get enough time to read.

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 have a daughter who is ten years old. I have read to her from day one, but she didn’t really “get it” until third grade when something clicked. In fourth grade she read like crazy and managed to read some amazing books (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; When You Reach Me; Bud, Not Buddy; War Horse…). This year she is more hesitant again, but partly it’s because she isn’t enjoying the required reading of fifth grade (Johnny Tremain and others). However, we still read together often, alternating who read aloud. I also think I am modeling good reading behavior whenever I pick up a book to read.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Helen 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!

5 Comments

  • Helen Murdoch March 29, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Thank you for interviewing me! I get nervous when I see that I am the topic, but I sounded alright 🙂 Have a great week!

    • Carina May 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

      You did, indeed, sound alright! 😛

  • Aths March 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    It was fun reading about Helen! I love her blog, so it was nice knowing more about her!

  • Jeanne March 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    It’s always discouraging to hear about readers who were discouraged by required reading for English classes.

    • Carina May 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

      I know! I thankfully didn’t run into that problem until I was in university, but I know lots of students (in my time before as a student and my time now as a teacher) who are turned off of reading because of what they’re told they “have to” read.

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