Did you like to read when you were a child? What were your favorite genres, books or series? Did you read books because of the author or because of the title/plot? Did you own many books? Did your school distribute the Scholastic book orders (or some other type)? Did you visit the library often? Was there a summer reading program when you were young, and did you participate? Do you have any particular memories of your school libraries? What were your favorites and least favorites among the classics (the ones high school English teachers assign!)? If you didn't like reading, do you like it more today than you did then?My mom taught me to read when I was four because I kept pestering her. She read out loud to me but, being a working mom, she didn't have the time to do it often. She also signed me up for my first book club before I was even in kindergarten. Thus began my collection of books that some might say borders on obsession. One of the saddest things that ever happened to me is that my early collection was destroyed shortly after I left for college; I'd left my multiple boxes of books in a friend's basement that flooded :(
I have a not-so-good reading-related memory from my first month in second grade. Since I'd learned so early and continued advancing, by this point I was reading books at a higher level so for my very first book report I wrote about The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. The teacher called me up front and accused me of (1) not reading the book at all, and (2) having my mother write the report! I was a shy child anyway and that experience was mortifying! I insisted I had read the book and she marched me down to the school library, pulled the book off the shelf, shoved it in my hands and demanded that I read to her. Which I did. She harrumphed and snatched the book away, then marched me back to class without another word. She never apologized and said nothing to the class (who sat in stunned silence) about the fact that I had read the book after all.
A better memory is from the fourth grade when we had a competition to see who could read the most books. I can't recall exactly how the teacher kept track...I have vague memories of getting something cut out from construction paper for each book read that we then "stacked" on the bulletin board and the person with the largest stack was ahead. Several of us went back and forth all year but in the end, I won! I also remember that some of us read so many books we had to start taping our paper cutouts to the wall above the bulletin board.
I read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on! A trip to the library always resulted in me checking out so many books that I struggled to carry them all home. Both the school and public libraries were staffed by wonderful women who were generous in sharing recommendations. I went at least once a week to the public library and usually several times a week to the one at school. And I have fond memories of visiting my aunt in southeastern Kentucky and having the Bookmobile come around -- a real novelty for this city girl! One of my older cousins was also an avid bookworm who spent most of his money on books so I could always count on a treasure trove of new ones to read each time I visited them. I found several favorite books there: That Jones Girl (found a discarded library copy years later) and Cluny Brown (which my cousin gave me but someone borrowed and never gave back).
When I found an author I liked, I'd read every single book by them that I could lay hands on. Then I'd move on. My method was to basically work through the stacks and rows of books, shelf by shelf, unless one of the librarians recommended a new book or author for me to try. I am not even going to begin listing some favorite authors or we'd be here all day! Some wrote series, others wrote single, stand-alone books. My criteria was simple: a good plot and interesting characters.
The public schools always had the Scholastic program and I saved my allowance to buy books. I could have cared less about candy and toys -- just give me books! There was something so SATISFYING about counting up my dimes and quarters (that was when most paperbacks were 35¢ to 50¢) and filling out the Scholastic order form...and then the day the books came in! Oh my! It was like Christmas every time :)
I don't remember any summer reading programs when I was growing up, but I did spend a lot of time reading in the summer, either early in the morning before the neighborhood kids got together to play, or at night after we were done. And, of course, whenever I got grounded for misbehaving, I'd make use of that time to read.
We didn't have to read a lot of classics in high school. Shocking, I know. But I don't think my English teachers were big on literature. Another not-so-fun memory is when my freshman English teacher got right in my face and told me, "You think you're so smart 'cause you talk proper." We had just moved back to Kentucky from Michigan and I think my Yankee accent and accurate use of grammar annoyed her. But from junior high in Michigan I remember having to decipher a short piece in Old English and also reading a bit of Chaucer in Middle English.
I actually read more classics while homeschooling my kids! Ivan's cousin teaches at Moody Bible Institute and she mentioned she had a list of books she wishes her students had read BEFORE they arrived at college. We used that as a guide and, while we certainly didn't get all the way through the list, our kids did get a decent start on the classics because of it. It was through that list that I discovered Chaim Potok, one of my all-time favorite authors. Have you read anything by him? YOU SHOULD!! I started with The Chosen but my favorite is Davita's Harp, and both his Asher Lev books are fantastic.
I can say with all honestly that my love for reading has never abated. I love reading today just as much as when my mom taught me how so many years ago. I cannot imagine life without books!
Which is why I caved and we bought a Kindle this year. While I much prefer the feel of a real book in my hands, the expense and time involved in having books sent from the U.S. made the Kindle an attractive alternative. BUT... you can bet I'll continue buying hard copies of favorites :)