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 Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts. 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 books is reading with my mom when she was waiting for a doctor’s appointment. She was pregnant with my sister and I was about 5 years old. We were in the waiting room and we read “Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now?” by Dr. Seuss. I remember loving it. My mom took us to the library all the time. We went to story time and would sit at the library and just read books. We were always registered in the summer reading programs. I loved the summer reading programs! My mom took us to the library but I would say my did is actually more of a reader than my mom. He loves to read and he would take us to the bookstore. I loved being able to go off and look at books on my own and then find him perusing the aisles and ask him to buy me a book. There is something so cool about buying your very own book. Both my parents read to us as kids, I rarely saw my mom reading books for her own enjoyment – I think she worked so hard at work, then came home and took care of us and cleaned the house that she was always just too tired – but my dad did read books for pleasure.
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 loved language arts and English classes growing up. I’m guessing that’s why I’m a teacher, because school was fun for me! I can’t say that I ever really truly remember when I first considered myself a reader. Looking back now, I feel as if I have always loved reading. I do have to say that when I was in 5th/6th grade I fell in love with Ann M. Martin’s Babysitter’s Club series and I read those like crazy. I guess when I couldn’t put those down and then found other series books and authors that I loved I became a reader.
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
Anyone will tell you that I have a “gift” for being able to read anywhere and anytime. My mom remembers there would be huge family gatherings and I would be sitting there with a book, just completely consumed and oblivious to what was going around me. My husband still tells me that I’m ignoring him because I’m reading and he has asked me question upon question and made comments and I don’t even look up. I guess it’s a talent I have to let myself get completely immersed in books no matter what is going on around me.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
I loved reading at the library. They had an awesome room at the back of the children’s section where all the novels were for older kids and they had funky chairs there. It was always great to find one of those chairs open. Otherwise, I loved reading outside. I loved the sound of birds and cars driving by and just being outside with the sun shining down and reading – I still love to read outside! I’ve mentioned a few books from my childhood, but another one I loved was “Mitchell is Moving”. It’s about a blue-green dinosaur who decides he’s tired of where he lives and wants to move away. His orange dinosaur friend, Margo, tells him she won’t let him leave. She comes up with all these crazy ideas to try and make him stay. Finally, he moves away, but is excited after he’s lonely and Margo comes to move in next door again. I read that book over and over again in 2nd grade. I honestly can’t tell you why I loved it, but I did!
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
I loved reading series books when I was a kid. It started with Babysitter’s Club books but I read Boxcar children, I read Agatha Christie mysteries, I read Lois Duncan books. I would latch onto a series or an author and just devour books. I loved mysteries and then read some classics in high school like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, Clockwork Orange, Heart of Darkness, Once and Future King, Gulliver’s Travels, Grapes of Wrath, Our Town, etc. I was on a craze for a while to read classic books by classic authors. In college I read lots of chick lit until I was in a children’s literature course and a representative from Scholastic came to talk about a new program they were unveiling. The rep brought a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for everyone in the class. I read it and completely fell in love. That was kind of my kickstart back into the world of middle grade/young adult novels. I still read adult books – I tend to read historical fiction the most – but I love reading middle grade and young adult novels. I would have to say my favorite of those books are science fiction, especially dystopic society books, but I love them all! I do still love to read books in a series and/or if I find an author I love, I’ll read multiple books by him/her. I’m not sure if I went through any “normal” phases, but that’s how my reading has evolved!
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 three-year-old son and a baby on the way (due 7/7/10). I read aloud to my son when I was pregnant with him and we have read to him every day since he was born. We definitely read a few books before bedtime, but we read during the day as well. I model reading by reading all the time when he’s around. If him and my husband sit down to watch a movie, I’m usually next to them on the couch reading a book! We visit the library and Barnes and Noble (our local bookstore closed in the fall :().
I hope you enjoyed learning about Jennifer 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!