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 Jen from Devourer of Books. 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 memory of reading is actually the memory of intense pride that I had just read a book by myself for the first time. I’m sure it was Dick and Jane or something similar, but I ran into the dining room where a bunch of adults were gathered absolutely thrilled with myself. My mom in particular was always providing me with access to books and language. She actually began reading to me from the very day I was born, bringing her edition of James Whitcomb Riley poems with her to the hospital. We’ve also got video of me at 2 or 3 years old reciting Twas the Night Before Christmas with my grandmother.
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 always enjoyed reading, from Kindergarten (or before, I’m not really sure when exactly I started reading, although I know I was young) on up, but I think I really truly became a big reader when my family moved from Oklahoma to California over Christmas break when I was in the first grade. Since I didn’t really know anybody, I spent a lot of time reading Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and the Boxcar Children, and never stopped.
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
I used to read while I was walking, including crossing the street. I still do it occasionally, but it is much easier when a parent is with you making sure you don’t get hit by cars! These days I’m more likely to be listening to an audiobook if I am walking somewhere, minimizes the whole falling down thing.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
I would read anywhere and everywhere! I did occasionally like to take a book up into the tree in our front yard to read, but that was never as comfortable as I imagined it would be, and after I fell out trying to carry up both a book and a popsicle I didn’t go up there much anymore. I think the things I remember best from my childhood were the series: Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Boxcar Children, Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps, Fear Street, and on, and on.
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
Until almost the middle of high school I was a big fan first of series, then of very prolific authors. Middle school and high school were all about Mary Higgins Clark, Michael Crichton, and John Grisham. I think there was a comfort level there, if I was only reading authors and characters I already knew well, then I could be secure in the fact that I would probably enjoy the book. I’m much more likely to take chances with new authors these days.
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?
The biggest thing I do for my son, who is 16 months old, is to model reading. He sees me read every day, and he knows that there are certain times during which I always read. He has even been known to get my book out of my purse and hand it to me during those times. By seeing me read, he has learned that reading is a ‘cool’ thing to do, and will pick up one of his books, sit down with it, and ‘read’ it for up to 10 minutes at a time – and that is the only time he is EVER still that long. We also read to him every day, at least right before he goes to bed, if not at other times as well.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Jen 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!