Reading Roots: Margaret from Books Please

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 Margaret from Books Please. 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”?

As long as I can remember I have loved books. I learnt to read at home before I went to school – I don’t remember how I learned, but I do remember telling the teacher at school that I could read. My father used to read stories to me at bedtime, or he would make up his own. My mother loved reading and always had a book on the go. She took me to the public library from about the age of 4 or 5 most Saturdays until I was old enough to go on my own.

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’ve always thought of myself as a ‘reader’ and an avid reader – certainly never a ‘reluctant’ reader. Needless to say I enjoyed English Language and Literature classes very much, although I didn’t always enjoy all the books – we read Cranford by Mrs Gaskell when I was about 12 and I didn’t like it much. I’ve read it again a few years ago and loved it.

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

I can’t think of any – unless reading in bed under the covers with a torch when I was a child and should have been asleep counts. I still read in bed, but not under the covers.

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

I’d read anywhere, including walking round the house. Books by Enid Blyton, The Flower Fairy books, Thomas the Tank Engine books, Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales, Andrew Lang’s Fairy Tale Books, Louisa May Alcott (Little Women etc), Susan Coolidge (the Katy books), Malcolm Saville (Susan and Bill books), Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Rosemary Sutcliff (historical fiction) spring to mind – and too many more to list.

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

I read quite a lot of crime fiction now, which I suppose grew out of liking mystery stories as a child, then Agatha Christie as a teenager. I still like the classics and contemporary fiction, which developed through the books we read as set books at school. I used to read a lot of historical fiction as a teenager and in my early 20s – I still like it but don’t read it as much now as then. I went through a phase where I read lots of science fiction and then another phase of books on religion and philosophy, but not so much now. I love autobiographies/memoirs/biographies and like to have one at the go most of the time.

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 same way my parents did – by reading books to my son, buying books and borrowing books from the library, and by talking about books. My son loves reading too and his children as well – we’re a family of readers.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Margaret 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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