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.


  1. Great memories! My answer is herE:

  2. this was a fun post to read! i loved the line about being born with a book in hand! :o)

  3. So many of my childhood memories involve books. I also remember agonizing over which Scholastic book to order from the catalog, because my sister and I could each only order one!

  4. Hi Wendy! I enjoyed reading your post! It's great that your parents are avid readers, although mine don't read a lot but they do encourage us to read more books when we were younger (Well, reading does help in our grammar, vocabulary, spelling etc, isn't it?!) LOL.

    Hope you have a great weekend ahead!

  5. I had forgotten the excitement of the Scholastic book club papers. We were on a limited budget as well and could only buy one or two books. And, every Christmas and birthday was sure to find a book or two wrapped up.

  6. Callista - Thank you for stopping by! I'll head over to your blog shortly to see your response.

    Alison - Thank you. :-)

    Janiejane - Yes, I have quite a few book related memories too. They are mostly great ones. :-) I see I am not the only one who had trouble choosing which books to order through Scholastic. I still have trouble narrowing down my choices when I go book shopping.

    Melody - Thanks! Even if your parents were not avid readers, I think the fact that they encouraged your reading is wonderful. That's all it takes sometimes.

    Judy - Yes! Even today I love finding books under the Christmas tree or receiving them for my birthday.

  7. Great memories! I enjoyed reading your post.

  8. What a great post, Wendy!

    My parents also always encouraged reading, and that's something I'm very grateful for.

  9. Totally enjoyed your post, Wendy. Like you, reading seems to rule and my former hobbies like stamp collecting, drawing have died off. The other 2 things I still love doing is photography and blogging, but reading definitely rules. :D

  10. Totally enjoyed your post, Wendy. Like you, reading seems to rule and my former hobbies like stamp collecting, drawing have died off. The other 2 things I still love doing is photography and blogging, but reading definitely rules. :D

  11. Great memories. I share your memory about trying to decide which Amelia book to read next. Such a hard choice!
    Thanks for stoping by and saying hello. You have a great blog!

  12. Thanks for visiting me! I like your website, and I am especially impressed by all the reading challenges you've taken on and how much progress you've made with them! I wish I could read more, but school tends to get in the way.

  13. I loved those Scholastic book papers as well! My mom would usually let me buy 2 or 3 each time and it was alwasy so hard deciding which ones.

  14. Great post Wendy!! It's funny, even though my parents weren't big readers, most of my grandparents were. My mom's dad, actually taught himself how to read, since he quit school so young to work (there were 9 kids in the family and he was the oldest). Whenever I picture him now, it's in his recliner, either reading the Bible or a Western. My other grandpa was more of a magazine reader. I can't picture him with books, unless they were about baseball!

  15. Your words are very moving ... and I forgot to say so in my BTT (first today) post, but things weren't rosy at home when I was a child either. And so reading was a wonderful comfort and also an escape. Now, I know that one of the reasons I write is to repay, to thank, all those writers who gave me somewhere to go in my childhood.

  16. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to imagine not wanting to read! That is, and has always been, a totally alien concept to me. My two sisters are not big readers, though they probably read more than they used to. My middle sister hated to read so much, she would set the timer for an hour if she had a book to read for school assignments, and when the timer rang, she closed the book - even if there was just one more page in a chapter!

    I've always thought she was switched at birth ...

  17. Like you I can't remember a time when I couldn't read. I always seemed to be able to. I used to get told off for walking round the house reading and if I got sent to my bedroom for being cheeky or something I never minded as I could read there.

  18. Laura - Thank you! Those certainly were some of my happiest memories.

    Nymeth - Thanks! I think it can make a big difference in a child's life. Even if the parents are not readers themselves, the fact that they are open to their children reading probably paves the way as well. Of course, there are always exceptions!

    Alice - Thank you. Blogging is still new to me so I'm not sure if it will stand the test of time like reading has. Haha If I'm still here in 10 years, you'll know. :-)

    Chris - Thank you!

    Pam - Thanks! I still have trouble deciding between books sometimes. I want to read them all at once.

    Kathleen - Thank you! I have a tendency to jump right in when I find an activity I like--the challenges--and forget that moderation is key. LOL Luckily I've managed okay so far.

    I do understand about school cutting into good leisure reading time. You fit it in when you can and that's the best you can do, right? That's all that matters. :-)

    Daphne - I couldn't resist them. It was always so hard to choose. I don't recall keeping a wish list back then, but then there were always so many choices to choose from . . .

  19. Stephanie - Thank you! I love that image of our grandfather sitting in his recliner reading. :-)

    Angela - Thank you. I think it's wonderful that you write in part to thank the authors who were with you growing up--at least in book form. That's a very nice sentiment.

    Bridget - Your middle sister sounds a bit like my brother when he was growing up. LOL He could stop wherever in a book and not look back and although he didn't have a timer, he sure kept a close watch on the clock. Luckily he's come around some since then and finds pleasure in reading now.

    BooksPlease - My dad learned pretty quickly that sending me to my room was not a worthwhile punishment. LOL It was more like a reward. :-) I too would walk around the house with a book in hand, still do, sometimes, reading as I go. One of my relatives never understood how I avoided walking into the walls.

  20. Among my favorite memories of my dad was the way he read to me. He was so dramatic and used the funniest voices. He brought books to life. I felt he enjoyed reading to me as much as I enjoyed listening. Both my parents read every night before bed. It's a habit I picked up and continue to this day. :)

  21. KW - What a great memory! I believe we do learn a lot by the examples set for us.


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