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 Violet from The Eager Readers. 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 parents have always been avid readers, and I remember being surrounded by books when I was little. My earliest memories of reading are of picture books like William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Jacquelyn Reinach & Richard Hefter’s Sweet Pickles series, Natalie Savage Carlson’s Marie Louise’s Heyday, John Vernon Lord’s The Giant Jam Sandwich, and Arlene Mosel’s Tikki Tikki Tembo. Reading was definitely an activity we shared as a family, and some of my fondest childhood memories are of reading aloud to my younger siblings and of having my parents read aloud to me.
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 considered myself a reader for as long as I can remember. Math and science were my favorite subjects in school, but I loved my English classes too. And I can’t even describe how much I loved the library as a kid. The library = paradise! 🙂
Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?
I have always liked to read books (or a series of books) from start to finish, so I am not a reader who ever glanced ahead or peeked at the ending before starting a book. I remember being shocked to find out that some people like to skip ahead or don’t mind reading a series of books out of order.
As a teenager I went through a phase of selecting random books off the library shelves just to sample unfamiliar authors and genres. I don’t do that very often now since my ‘to-be-read’ list is overwhelmingly long even without throwing surprise books into the mix at random.
Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?
I particularly enjoyed reading in bed late at night when the whole house was quiet, so my bedside lamp could frequently be found burning brightly into the wee hours of the morning. Many of the books that I distinctly remember from my childhood are books that my parents read with me. We always had long discussions about the stories as we read together, so they are the first books that I remember as much for my thoughts about them as I do for the actual content of the books. A few of the books we read together were Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Johanna Hurwitz’ Much Ado About Aldo, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?
As a little girl, I loved picture books and fairy tales. As an independent reader, I became hooked on one book series after another including Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series, Franklin W. Dixon’s Hardy Boys books, Ann M. Martin’s Baby-sitter’s Club books, and Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Twins books and Sweet Valley High books. As a teen, I read a little bit of everything, but I was especially devoted to classics and I fell in love with several books that are still among my favorites, including Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. As a young adult, I continued devouring classics and started reading more mystery novels. Around that time, my husband and I started collecting children’s books for the kids we planned to have someday, and we had tons of fun diving back into the world of picture books! We also began to explore the awesome
middle-grade section of the bookstore and quickly fell in love with books like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. By the time our first child was born, we had filled three bookcases with kids’ books and I was totally enamored with middle-grade and young-adult books. I still love fairy tales, and I am more in love with picture books than ever. I still adore books that feature clever characters and a generous amount of humor, and I still have a soft spot for classics and books that make me cry.
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 encourage my children to read by surrounding them with a wide variety of books and spending a significant amount of time reading to and with them. They know that I enjoy reading, cherish books, and love to discuss books with them. Our bookcases are perpetually overflowing, and I rarely say no to requests for ‘just one more book’ or ‘just one more chapter’ at bedtime. I also encourage my children to check out any library books that interest them, so we read a very eclectic assortment of library books each week.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Violet 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!