Reading Roots: Teresa from Shelf Love

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 Teresa from Shelf Love. 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 remember anyone in my family reading much, but my parents always encouraged me to read, gave me lots of books, and took me to the library often. I had tons of Little Golden Books and book and record sets that I listened to over and over. Listening to those and following along in the book was what helped me learn to 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 think I always thought of myself as a reader. When I started school, I could already read a little (mostly words I’d memorized from those books and records), and I loved reading in school. The biggest frustration I had was that sometimes the reading in class went too slowly, so I’d get bored and read ahead and wouldn’t know where the class was when the teacher called on me.

In high school, English was my favorite class, and I was one of those weird kids who loved almost all the books we were assigned to read. (Yes, even The Scarlet Letter.)

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

I remember going through a phase in late elementary school where I liked to act out the books as I’d read them. I think that was an early sign that I would eventually also catch the acting bug! I don’t do that anymore, although I might read dialogue out loud if I’m alone.

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

I would read anywhere, except in the car because I got car sick. I didn’t have any particular spots, although I do remember sitting on the front porch swing and reading a lot.

Favorite childhood books were Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also read lots of Judy Blume.

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

I started out with a few children’s classics, and I did go through a phase of seeking out Newbery Award winners, but mostly as a kid and pre-teen, I read whatever was popular–so tons of Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary (though not the Ramona books), Sweet Valley High, lots of teen romances and suspense novels. In high school, I discovered classic literature and started in with Dickens, JRR Tolkien, Thomas Hardy, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the Bronte sisters, and that’s mostly what I read all the way through college. It was until several years after college that I rediscovered contemporary literature. Now I read pretty widely, from lots of different eras and genres.

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 it’s really important to show kids that reading can be fun and that there are books for almost any taste out there. Give them lots of option and variety and let them choose what appeals to them. That’s the first step. But I also think some direction can be helpful. If I hadn’t had teachers pushing classics on me, I probably would have kept reading books that didn’t challenge me at all. I wouldn’t have known I was ready to tackle more challenging books, so I wouldn’t have tried, and I would have missed some of the best books I’ve ever read. So freedom with guidance would seem ideal.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Teresa 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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