Reading Roots: Terri from Brown Girl Speaks

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 Terri from Brown Girl Speaks. 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 always notes that I would drag books around long before I could and would pretend to read with the books upside down. She says I just seemed to be obsessed with books from the beginning. I always tell people I was born with a book in hand.  I can remember my first favorite book was Pokey Little Puppy. I must’ve read it a thousand times.

My parents are not “readers” but they always bought books for me and my younger brother. They recognized and nurtured my love of reading. My mom would tease when I went on reading binges and tell me to “come up for air.” While she loved that I loved reading, she worried about my social development. It’s quite amusing now that I’m a homeschool mom and have to ward off the questions of socialization frequently.

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 lived for English from sentence diagramming to reading comprehension. It’s just… my language. No pun intended! I can’t remember not being fanatically attached to books. So, I’ve always considered myself a reader. It’s just innate. I first realized I was a reader when, at 4 years old, during a car ride with my parents I started yelling out the names of every business we passed.

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

No reading habits unless you consider me being quite territorial of the book mobile that came to my neighborhood every other Saturday as interesting. Otherwise, no unique reading rituals and still none now.

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

Again, Pokey Little Puppy was my first favorite. Next was my first self-made book purchase of Frog and Toad Are Friends. That was another one well read. Of course I got into The Babysitter’s Club series and Katherine Paterson’s Jacob Have I Loved marked the end of my childhood reading and I still adore that book.

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 the typical classics of children’s literature. It all appealed to me because the idea of reading was just fascinating. Then I got into the more socially conscious YA fiction like Lurlene McDaniel’s sappy novels always about someone dying and Cynthia Voigt’s Izzy Willy Nilly about drunk driving. From there, I got the insane idea that I’d read all the “Classics” before I finished high school. HA! I finished Wuthering Heights and not much else. In college, I started out reading a little chick lit like She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb (still a fave) and lots of Oprah’s Picks as those were at their height in the late 90s. But, soon my most drastic change occurred and has been with me ever since. I solely became interested in literature, first, by Black authors then any and all authors of color.

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?

My son is a reluctant reader which can be frustrating. I understand that he’s not me but it doesn’t make it any easier to be someone with such an inherent love of reading to have a child somewhat the opposite. He reads really well, it’s just a chore to get him to do it. So, I’m quite old school with my “encouragement”. It’s simply that reading daily is not negotiable. PERIOD.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Terri 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!

5 thoughts on “Reading Roots: Terri from Brown Girl Speaks”

  1. Nice interview! I love Terri’s blog. I think it’s great that her parents nurtured her love of reading even though they weren’t readers themselves.

    1. Me, too! My dad was a bit like that – he read to me as a child, but then let me continue on my own. I didn’t see my father read a single “real” (adult) book until last year!

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