Friday, January 05, 2007

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald

I have been wanting to post to my blog but was not quite sure what to say. Orange Blossom from The Library Ladder wrote a post for her blog this evening that touched me deeply. The following is where my thoughts took me:

Occasionally the question arises among the book communities I am a part of as to the origin of a person's love for the written word. It's great fun to hear the stories that come from that question. Some readers are the only ones in their families who read; others, like me, are a chip off the old block. I often find myself relating my father and mother's love for books, including mentioning my parents' extensive library.

My father's response to many of my questions growing up was to refer me to one of his books. While that did not always make me happy in that moment, I now can more fully appreciate his lesson in resourcefulness.

I remember those friendly summer competitions to see if we could conquer a book a day during the summer months. We'd visit the library a day or two before our summer camping trips, load up on as many books as possible so that we could enjoy reading under the pines with only the sound of the birds and wind in the trees to disturb us.

There were many nights while I was growing up that my mother would knock on my bedroom door and remind me that I needed to get to bed because morning came early. I used to push a towel against the bottom of my door so she wouldn't be able to see any light coming off my little bedside lamp. I don't think I fooled her.

My thoughts often stop there when I think of an answer to the question of where my love for reading came from. And yet it was not just my parents' influence that drew me to the magic of books.

My grandparents loved having my brother and I spend the night. Besides the morning Bible studies, each of us taking turns reading from our designated devotionals, my grandmother insisting my brother and I take our vitamins and drink both our orange juice and our milk at breakfast, I remember settling in for the evenings in the living room at my grandparents' house, not a tv in sight, each of us with our own book to entertain us. My grandparents enjoyed reading and encouraged that in me. I admit that sometimes I just liked to watch them read.

My grandmother mostly read Christian fiction. She was the one who introduced me to C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia.

My grandfather was a journalist at one time. Small time, but still a writer. He loved to write. I always felt a special bond with him because we shared that in common as well as our love for books.

Both he and my grandmother are no longer with us, but a part of them still lives in my heart and memories.

This is just a small glimpse of the happy memories I have that involve books and the written word. I could probably fill pages.

And it doesn't quite end there . . . My husband and I became friends, our first conversation being about our love for writing. I was lucky enough to find a man who shares my love for books and the written word (fortunately for both of us, he is not quite as obsessive as I sometimes can be when it comes to books). He, too, comes from a family of readers. A perfect fit.

Do you have any special memories involving books or reading?

Aside: I must say, I am enjoying reading Anna Karenina very much. I only wish I had had more time to devote to reading this week. Perhaps the weekend will offer more of the chance to immerse myself among the pages. Although it is not a quick read, I am finding it hard to put down in those moments I do find to read. I'm anxious to learn what comes of Kitty. Then there is Anna and Vronsky. And what of Levin? And poor Dolly? I'm afraid her husband, Stiva, hasn't won any of my sympathy yet.


  1. I envy you so much, because I come from one of those families where I am the only one who reads! My husband does not read at all and doesn't understand how I can "waste" a whole afternoon reading :0) Luckily, his Mother is a big reader like me so we exchange books and thoughts about the books we are reading all the time! I often think about when I do finally have children, what they will be like. I really hope they are readers, too!

  2. My father wasn't a great reader of fiction, but told us (over and over) to "research it." Mother loved books and reading and instilled a love of fiction and poetry in me, if not my brothers. :)

    Thanks for sharing your reading memories!

  3. I grew up in a philistine household, so my love of books came from a really good teacher.

  4. My Dad read mostly for work, My Mom almost always had a book she was reading. They always encouraged and supported my addiction to books.

    One of the first things my Husband and I realized we had in common was a love of books and many of the same favorite authors.

  5. My fondest memories are of going to the library with my father. He reads only nonfiction and I read everything. Sometimes we walked, others we drove. I thought I was so grown up when I got my firt adult library card. Of course my dad had to sign permission cause I was under age.

    Books have been my best friend my entire life. My husband rarely reads unless it's for work. Me, I couldnt last an hour without a book.


  6. What wonderful stories, thank you for sharing.

    Kim - I am glad you at least can share your love for books with your mother-in-law. :-) I often exchange with my mother-in-law (and my own) as well. We have a little long distance book ring going among the three of us.

    Jenclair - "Go look it up" was a favorite phrase of my dad's. Haha Nice to know I wasn't the only one. It sounds like you benefited a lot from your mother's influence. :-)

    My brother wasn't much of a reader when I was growing up, although he's become one over the years.

    JCR - It's wonderful the amount of influence one good teacher can have on us. I have a lot of respect for educators.

    Suzi - Isn't it wonderful to have a partner who shares in your love for books? While my husband tends to be a little more discerning in his taste of books and authors, I can say that I enjoy most of what he likes (and then some).

    Kay - What a lovely story! It sounds like your library visits with your father were really special. :-)

  7. We didn't have a TV for 3-4 years while I was growing up, which meant I read books ALL the time. I read the most in my family, but my husband listens to quite a few audiobooks a year and my children love books, too. It's so wonderful when we can read or listen to a book together after dinner--especially in the winter.

  8. I never saw my dad with a book. I never saw my mother with a book. I have no idea where I got my love for reading, but I can't remember not reading. I read while my husband watches TV. I envy all of you who have people in your life with whom you can discuss your books. I'd be lost without my on-line book buddies!

  9. These stories are wonderful! I grew up very poor, so we only got books for our own on Christmas. These books were our great treasures. We read them over and over and traded with each other. I often would walk the 2 miles to the nearest library to get more books and I would guard them with my very life for fear they would revoke my card.

    One extremely cold winter, my asthmatic father got very sick and could not chop the wood that we needed to heat our house. My mother is a small Japanese woman, and I was only 11, so we couldn't do much either. We had to burn our books to keep warm until my dad got well. I never cried so hard in my life. It was like having to murder my best friends.

    Sounds like it could be a novel, doesn't it? Now that I am an adult and financially stable, I surround myself with books, and feel so grateful everyday that I can live so comfortably.

  10. Sometimes when I comment on blogs they use my Google name instead of my blogger name. (I'm stupid, so I can't figure it out). If you see "Michelle", it is probably me.

  11. Neither of my parents were readers either. But my Grandma was. She took me every Saturday to the "Little Professor" book store to buy something for me. This is how I ended up with an entire set of Nancy Drew books, then Trixie Belden and finally Agatha Christy. My Grandma was my hero, and even after 12 years, I still miss her!!

    At least my kids are going to be readers!

  12. More wonderful stories! Thank you!

    3m - What a great family activity, listening to or reading books after dinner together! Now there's a memory your children will probably cherish forever.

    Lynne - Online reading and book discussion groups/blogs are wonderful outlets for people like us, aren't they? Thank goodness for the internet.

    Kooiejar (Michelle) - I would have been devestated too, watching the books burn. I imagine that it was the only alternative your parents saw at the time to help the situation. Still, for a child who loves her books . . . Thank you for sharing!

    Stephanie - Your grandmother sounds like she was a wonderful lady. Thanks for sharing.

  13. What a wonderful post!! I can tell you that the kindness of my bookish bloggy friends has been a source of great strength and I thank you for that! This post had me smiling the whole way through.


  14. My grandmother used to say that I was going to rot away reading a book. She would find me in the same place as the day before and the day before that. My parents were always concerned about my reading addiction saying that I wasn't being social enough. Little did they know, I was getting acquainted with my bestest of friends.

  15. This is such a beautiful post. How lucky you are to have come from such a multidimensional word family, to be able to appreciate reading at so many levels.

    P.S. Being the Literate Kitten, I must comment on how fabulous your blog photos are!

  16. Very cool post! I'll have to write about my own history, some time. I've turned my entire family into readers. Hubby's dyslexic, so he didn't read for fun when I met him. Now, he tells me when he's about to finish his latest book - he's still slow, but that doesn't stop him from dropping hints that I need to help him find his next read. I love that.

    My kids are avid readers, too, and I think one of the keys is to find what they love and locate books that fit their interests. Both my boys went through a period of disinterest in reading. I wouldn't tolerate it. I kept quizzing them and bringing them books till I had them hooked. We often chatter about books that excite us, now. And, my youngest gets in trouble all the time for reading at school. It makes me glow because - hey, he's not fighting! LOL

    And, hmm, I almost forgot why I'm here. You won my Chunkster Challenge drawing for a tote bag. For some reason, my mail isn't going to the address I want it to go to, so please write me at and if I don't hear from you, I'll let you know. :) Congratulations!

  17. Heather - It was all do to your inspiration. :-)

    Nessie - A coworker and I were talking today at work about the upcoming Harry Potter book and another of our coworkers made a comment about how reading is bad for a person because then that person lives in a fantasy world all the time. My thoughts immediately went to her four children and what they will miss out on if their mother won't let them bury their nose in a book from time to time. I am glad you were able to hang on to your love for reading. Your story gives me hope!

    Literate Kitten - Thank you so much for those kind words. :-)

    I just have to tell you that I enjoy your blog (and your nickname!).

    Bookfool - Haha! That's great! I am glad you were able to influence them to be readers. I think people who do not enjoy reading miss out on a lot.

    Wow! I won a tote! I'm still working on my first chunkster, but I hope to finish it this week. Thanks, Nancy! I sent you an e-mail.

  18. What a great post. I really enjoyed reading it and it brought up even more reading memories (beyond what I posted about the origins of my love of sci fi the other day). Thanks for sharing, that was terrific!

  19. Thank you, Carl. Your post reminded me just how much I owe my husband for introducing me the the joy of fantasy and sci fi (thanks to me he discovered a love for mysteries). :-)

  20. What an awesome memory! I enjoyed reading that. My dad read when I was growing up, too, but I think I was definitely the biggest reader in my family. Any free moment I could get...there I was, with my nose stuck in a book. I would read and re-read the same ones if I didn't have anything new. Now that I'm older I rarely do that anymore, since there are so many that I want to get to and not enough time. :)

  21. Ah! I don't believe in the term 'I don't like to read.' No, no. It's just that you haven't found the right book. The worm, the hook. But once you do you get it all right.

  22. Zandria - I have a list of books I would love to re-read someday, but as you said, Zandria, there are so many I have yet to read still and those are the ones I gravitate most too.

    Nessie - So true!


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