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 Stefanie from So Many 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 mom tells me I could read quite well by the time I was four, though I don’t remember learning how to read. My earliest reading memories involve reading to my sister who is two years younger than I am.
My sister and I were always encouraged and praised for reading. Our parents would read to us, our babysitters would read to us, other family members would read to us if we asked them and would also ask us to read to them. We had our own books and as soon as I could write my name I had my own library card too. My mom would take us to the library pretty regularly especially during summer and we could check out whatever books we wanted to. My elementary school also had a small library and I always had books checked out from there during the school year. No one ever told me what to read or that I wasn’t allowed to read something. I was given free reign when it came to books.
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 English classes in school and went on to major in English lit in college both as an undergrad and a graduate. The only thing I didn’t like about reading in school was having to read aloud in a group. I could read and understand every word silently but didn’t always know how to pronounce it correctly and I was terrified of pronouncing words wrong.
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
When I misbehaved my mom would threaten to send me to my room. This was supposed to be a punishment because the door would be closed and no one would be allowed to talk to me. Sometimes I would ask her to send to me to my room if I had done something wrong because then I could read for a little while without being interrupted.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
When I was a kid my bedroom was so small the only place to read comfortably was the bed. As a consequence the bed is still my favorite place to read on top of or beneath the covers depending on the time of day.
As far as books I remember from my childhood, I can remember quite a few but have also forgotten even more I am sure. I liked Dr. Seuss, Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I loved the Nancy Drew books and was eternally grateful to an older cousin who gave me all of hers as a present for my birthday one year. I also liked Trixie Beldon and the Little House books.
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
I think my pleasure in Dr. Seus led to Shel Silverstein and then on to a general love of the sound of language and poetry. I loved to read books that had animals in them when I was a kid and I think that may have in roundabout and mysterious ways contributed to a current enjoyment of science nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy. I also loved to read books when I was a kid I thought would be hard which at the time usually meant long. I still love a good chunkster of a book but my definition of hard has expanded and I like to read books that are challenging in some way (structure, language, etc). My eclectic childhood reading has also translated to eclectic adulthood reading. There is no genre I am not willing to read in as long as the book is good according to my good book criteria which I can’t even fully articulate.
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 don’t have children but I have friends and family members who do and a good number of the kids are readers. All of them were read to by their parents and have at least one parent who is a reader. All of them were/ are encouraged to read by family members besides their parents. And all of them are allowed to have their own books and choose their own reading.
This doesn’t always produce a bookworm though. Of two sibling cousins one always has his nose in a book and the other, who is still a very competent reader, couldn’t care less about books. He wants to be running around and doing things. The good thing is that neither boy is made to feel bad about his preference which I think is influenced in part by personality. The reader is a shy, quiet boy, the active boy is very outgoing and social and loves to talk, talk, talk. But you never know, one day when he is older he might find reading has something to offer him too.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Stefanie 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!