Thursday, August 23, 2007
Booking Through Thursday: Indoctrination
When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
I like to think that I was born with a book in my hands. I could not tell you how old I was when I first began to read, what the first book I read was, what the first chapter book I read was or anything as specific as that. What I can tell you is that I do not remember a time in my life when books and reading were not a part of it. My story is one that I have shared with many of you before in one form or another.
Both of my parents are avid readers. My father reads about a book a day. My mother reads mostly during the summer months when school is not in session or during the holidays, but she usually has a book going year round.
My father went into the military straight after high school and got his higher education through experience and reading. He amassed a huge library of books, mostly history and military books, westerns, mythology, fantasy, and action/adventure type books; and later when he decided to go to college for an Associates' degree, he started collecting books related to the subjects he was studying. I grew up surrounded by books. I cannot remember a time when we did not have multiple bookshelves full of books lining the walls of our house. One of my dad's favorite responses to a question I might have regarding any particular subject was to go look it up. He'd point to the bookshelves and tell me the answers lay right there.
I do not believe my father had that kind of influence during his own childhood, his father only having time to sleep when he was not working and his mother trying to raise five children of varying ages. My mother's parents, on the other hand, would spend evenings reading, whether it be the Bible or some other sort of book. Even during my own childhood, overnight stays with my maternal grandparents meant quiet evenings with a book in hand after a board or card game. Turning on the television was not something they ever thought to do. With parents like that, is it any wonder my mother turned out to be a reader too? (Side note: Neither of my mother's two brothers are readers--one of which has a slight disdain for books altogether; perhaps over exposure?)
Like with my father, many of my mother's own books lined the shelves of our home library while I was growing up: the classics, education related books, and general fiction. I do not remember my parents ever boxing up books to give away, although I remember going to library sales and such to bring more home.
Both of my parents read to me and I read to them once I was able to. Sometimes I would make up my own stories as I went along.
I remember vividly those Scholastic book catalogs that would peruse with an intensity befitting any true booklover. I circled each book I wanted to buy and then had to pare it down to one or two, which is about all we could afford on our budget.
Visits to the library were frequent during my childhood, especially during the summer months. At the beginning of each summer my brother and I would reluctantly get into the car for the ride to the library, dreading that summer library program. We'd rather be playing kickball with our friends or hanging at home. Of course, once we got there, it was an entirely different story. The library always had guest speakers and fun activities for the children. I remember the man with the snake and the magician, in particular. There was also the reading competition; who would read the most books that summer? Our progress was marked by various themed shapes (frogs, fish, birds, etc) tacked to the wall in the children's section. The children who read the most books at the end of the year would won special awards. I always aimed for that top prize.
I loved to browse the library shelves, pulling out books to read. I remember sitting on the floor trying to figure out which Amelia Bedelia book I should read next. As I got older, I would spend more time at the paperback racks, deciding on which books I would take camping with me. Paperback books weren't marked and we could check out as many of those as we wanted. I would often help my mom pick out books for my dad, who rarely came to the library with us.
Our camping trips to the Sierra Nevada mountains or wherever else we decided to put up our tent that summer hold the most pleasant reading memories from my childhood. While we did go hiking and on the occasional sightseeing trip, we mostly just settled in our lawn chairs or at the picnic table and read. We'd spend hours at a time, lost in our books. I remember my brother and I racing to my father's lawn chair when he would go into the tent for a nap. He was the only one who had a long lawn chair where you could put your feet up. When it rained, we would retreat to the tent where we would continue reading. Sometimes I would go off by myself and find a rock in a secluded place to read or write.
Life was not all rosy in my home while I was growing up, and reading and writing were my escape and my comfort. I often retreated to my bedroom to find solace in a book. When things were at their worst, I knew I could always lose myself in a book and forget my own troubles for awhile. Or I would create my own world, putting pencil to paper. It was a sort of therapy, some might say.
My parents fostered a love for reading in me that has stayed with me my entire life. I will always be grateful to them for that. I have fallen out of interest with other hobbies over the years, but not yet reading. I cannot ever imagine not wanting to read, not taking pleasure in the written word.