I’ve often wondered about why some of us read voraciously while others could care less, and why some of us are very fast readers and others struggle. Could be that it’s just how our brains are wired differently…right side vs left side, and all that scientific junk that I’m not so good at. Perhaps it has something to do with how we were raised, and that is what I want to explore a little bit with you today.
I consider myself very fortunate in that both of my parents were avid readers as were my maternal grandparents. Even tho my dad lived in another state, I remember when I would visit him that he always had a book close by…he always read before bed, and wasn’t one for much television. My dad loved to read encyclopedias. I always thought that was absolutely fascinating. I liked them as reference books, but I gotta admit that I never cracked one open and just started reading it from cover to cover. I don’t really remember what else he liked to read, but I know he liked big, thick books…funny…me too.
My mom has always been a big before bed reader as well, along with being an in- the- bathtub reader…funny…me too. I flove soaking in a super hot bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine 2 or 3 times a week. My moms taste in books were always geared toward contemporary fiction. She likes romance and mystery best, but she’ll read a historical novel or a biography once in a while. She reads the newspaper every day, and the Reader’s Digest was always laying around somewhere…open to whatever article she happened to be on.
The interesting thing about both my parents that might surprise you? Neither of them read to me when I was too young to read myself. I don’t know why not…I never asked…they just didn’t. BUT…my maternal grandmother? Now that’s a different story all together. Her name was Polly, and she was one of the greatest human beings to ever grace my life. When family members tell me that I have a lot of her characteristics…I am beyond proud. She was born and raised in Canada, and came to the States to attend Northwestern University in Illinois. I think she wanted to have an adventure away from her parents, and her tante lived nearby. It’s probably the only reason her parents let her go off. She met and married my grandfather and never went back to Canada other than for a few visits. She was someone who read almost every free moment she had, and she read to me a lot. We would curl up on the couch and she would read me not just one book, but several every evening before she sent me downstairs where my mother and I lived. She also took me to the library every Saturday, and patiently helped me to select my weeks worth of books. Even after I could read on my own this was a ritual we performed together. I s’pose that’s where I get my love of libraries from. One of the 1st things I do when I move to a new town? Find the closest library and get a card. Even tho I have a Kindle I still love to visit them…just not as often as I used to.
When I became a mother myself I read to my children every night, and I took them to the library at least once a week. Whenever any children’s program was available I took them to it…even when I had no car, and we had to take a bus. It was that important to me to give them that experience. Guess what?!? All 3 of them are readers too, altho my youngest is the one most like me as far as reading speed, and passing along great books to others. Just last week he got a coworker reading one of his favorite series of books. That is utterly delightful to me.
Now…you may be asking why on earth I just shared all this personal stuff with you…here’s why…
Too often I talk to parents whose children are involved in a zillion different activities, and yet these same parents tell me their children struggle in school. When I dig a little deeper I find that for the majority of them neither the parents or children are readers. I don’t mean that they’re illiterate, but that they don’t spend any quality time reading for pleasure. This breaks my heart.
Reading is so important for life skills, and adds so much richness to the quality of every day life that I find it almost incomprehensible when I find out how many people put so little value on it. I encourage people all the time to make the time to read…every day…even if it’s just 15 stolen minutes from TV, or another activity, and parents please…make the time to read to or with your kids. Take them to the library for free books to read. Visit bookstores…many have a used book section where you can buy very current books for a fraction of the “new” price. Second hand/thrift stores are another valuable gold mine to find books for next to nothing. Being able to and having the desire to read and read well is something that I treasure, and never take for granted. I hope all of my readers share their joy and passion for books, magazines, newspapers, or whatever as often as possible.
As the tag line says on the home page of this blog…
Just read. Feed your mind and open your heart.