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 Stephen from This Week At The Library. Let’s explore his 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 parents read to my older sister and myself while we were young in part because they wanted us to be readers. To their credit, we still are: we even read some of the same books. Last summer my sister hooked me on Greg Iles’ works. Everyone in my family read, even my dad: he didn’t have shelves of books like my sister’s Sweet Valley High novels or my own Goosebumps and Boxcar children, but he liked reading Louis Lamour westerns. I can remember some evenings when all of us sat around reading from our respective 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”?
English classes were always easy for me given my reading habit. I read nonfiction regularly and absorbed rules of proper grammer as a consequence: I didn’t need to memorize the rules to know what sounded right. I grew up during the Goosebumps craze when even the popular kids were reading, so I didn’t realize until seventh grade or so that reading as much as I did was considered odd. I know I took pride in my reputation as a reader in eighth grade: when my teacher denied me permission to visit the library, I thought him impudent and snuck out anyway.
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
I’d read everywhere as a kid — on the bus, in the cafeteria, in church, in the classroom, wherever I could. At recess, I’d sneak a paperback novel into my pockets and then escape through the hedge into the woods surrounding my school, where I could read in private. I still tend to read everywhere I can: I never go anywhere without a book. You never know when an opportunity to read — like a traffic jam or a prolonged stop at a railroad crossing — will pop up.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
My family lived in a wooded area during my childhood, and I favored a spot in the woods tucked between a marsh and some steep hills. One of the first books I read out there was Brian Jacques’ *Redwall*, I remember it well because it was the first time I’d ever read a book that swept me away into another world: as much as I liked the Henry Huggins or Boxcar Children books, they were light reads. *Redwall* was more substantial: it was an experience.
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
Early on I read a little of everything — science, history, and ghost stories usually accompanied the usual children’s novels. My reading tended toward the fictional during high school aside from the occassional history book, but in 2006 I started reading nonfiction obsessively. I developed a passion for science and from it and history obsessively. Once I started university studies, my interests broadened into philosophy and sociology. There’s really little I won’t read: virtually every portion of the human experience fascinates me.
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 if I ever do I will encourage reading in the same way my parents did, by reading to them. I think a child becomes a reader when they making reading their own — when they realize it’s something they can *use*, not just something their parents and teachers want them to do. Reading is self-empowerment.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Stephen 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!