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 Melissa from One Librarian’s Book Reviews. 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”?
I don’t have a great memory, but mostly I recall my mother reading to me and my brother. Most of the time, I would listen in to books she read for my brother, since I never had a problem finishing what I was assigned to read. I can also remember adoring the reading time in first grade, where I would sit right in front of the teacher and simply drink in the stories.
My parents are both very literate, but I particularly recall my mother was always reading something in the mornings before she sent us off to school. While there were a few of us avid readers (eight kids in my family), there were also a few who were very reluctant readers. My mother read to them well past the time they should have been reading for themselves. I even recall reading The Grapes of Wrath to my sister who really hated reading. I think I was about 12 or 13 and she was in high school. My dad, while we were growing up, never had spare time to read, but since he’s retired, he’s given me a run for my money on how many books a week he will read!
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 absolutely adored my English classes – and I always did the best in them. I don’t remember ever being reluctant to pick up anything I was assigned, even if I didn’t end up liking it much. I always dreamed of majoring in English and being a writer – I ended up majoring in physics and astronomy. And then becoming a librarian. But, I never stopped loving reading and writing.
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
Mostly I would find a specific book or author I loved and then I would devour anything I could get my hands on by them or about the book. I went through a Bronte phase, an Austen phase, a Gone with the Wind phase, a Nathanial Hawthorne phase and a number of others. I do still love to read everything I can from a favorite author. 🙂
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
I could always be found wrapped in a blanket by the heat vent in our living room. It was kind of hidden behind a wall, and if my family was ever looking for me, they soon learned I would be there. I still love that spot, and it’s too bad there isn’t a great heat vent in my apartment for snuggling up in a blanket. In the summer, I love to sit outside on a blanket and read.
I remember reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond and absolutely adoring it. I think it was my first introduction to romantic stories and I adored Nat with all my heart. I also really wanted to be Kit.
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
I’ve definitely broadened my horizons with new kinds of books. I used to only read classics for a long time – I’d stick to what was on the classics lists. I never really read new releases or any YA books (sometimes I’d pick up a childhood favorite, but they were more MG). Now, I read lots of new releases, lots of YA and MG, and not as many classics.
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 think if kids find something that they like to read, let them read it! Don’t force them to read only stuff they hate. That just encourages them to hate reading in general and never want to pick anything up, even if they might like it. Help them find something they like, even if you think it is not “literary” enough (comics, manga, dreadful series) and let them read it. Then when you try to encourage them into different books and genres, they might be more willing to try it. And they might just end up liking some of what you suggest. (I grew up on Nancy Drew and Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. Now I’m a librarian. I think I turned out ok.)
I hope you enjoyed learning about Melissa 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!