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 The Feminist Texican [Reads]. 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 think my earliest memory involving books was sitting with my mom and my little brother while she read a children’s book of illustrated Bible stories. I used to love to pull that book out and just look at the pictures. I don’t remember us having any of the “classics” of children’s literature, but I do remember that my mom would buy us inexpensive children’s books whenever she went to the store. Reading was something we mostly did with my mom. My dad is a sporadic reader, and even though my mom would read us children’s books, she’s not much of a reader. My sister likes to read, but she rarely has time, whereas my brother hates reading (although I have convinced him to listen to an audiobook or two).
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 loved English classes. I’m awful at science, fairly awful at math, and I hated P.E., so going to English class was a wonderful reprieve! I think it also helped that I had excellent Reading/English teachers who made class fun.
I think I’ve always considered myself a reader. For as long as I can remember, books have had a magical quality and have always intrigued me.
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
I didn’t have any interesting reading habits, but I did have bad manners! I would read everywhere I went, even if we were eating dinner or visiting relatives. My parents would always scold me for plopping myself down in a chair and burying my nose in a book in front of company. My grandma was the only one who cut me some slack, since she was also a bookworm. I don’t do that anymore, but if I’m eating alone at home or at a restaurant, I’ll still read at the table.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
I don’t think I had a favorite spot to read–back then, I could read anywhere! If I was at my grandparents’ house I liked to curl up on their big, old, maroon recliner. Otherwise, I wasn’t too picky.
Regarding children’s books, the children’s book of Bible stories that my mother used to read from stands out (which is kind of funny to me now, considering I’m an atheist). I also distinctly remember Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss because when I was in elementary, our teacher actually made green eggs and ham in class (FYI: green ham is really not appetizing)!
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
We mostly had generic children’s books at home when I was little. I actually found one not too long ago and couldn’t believe how dated it looked! But as a child, I just liked having a variety of illustrated stories to flip through. During my teen years, it was all about Sweet Valley. My friends and I were obsessed, and we were always lending our books to each other in the cafeteria during lunch. I also went through a Star Trek series phase in high school (I’m still a Trekkie, I just don’t read the books). Now I have pretty eclectic tastes. I love literary fiction and women’s studies-related nonfiction. Lately, I’ve also been reading a lot of memoirs. Really, I just read whatever interests me at the moment, be it YA lit or Tolstoy. That being said? Sweet Valley Confidential is still probably one of my most highly-anticipated books of the decade.
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 reading to children as early in life as possible is the most important thing. Whenever a friend or relative has a baby, I always make sure to give them at least one book. If children grow up having a positive experience with books, they’ll be more likely to have an open mind about reading when they get older, rather than treat reading like a chore. I have a little nephew, and I’ve been reading to him since he was a baby. I try to keep everything fun and positive, and it’s paying off!
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!