Lately I’ve been having a hard time reading. Never mind writing. My mother passed away earlier this month and although she lived a very long full life, I’m engulfed in sadness. As much as it was expected, and as much as I was “prepared”, grief has caught me by surprise. Friends tell me this is normal.
I’ve been reflecting on what I learned from her and the lessons she taught me. One of the greatest gifts she gave me is my love of books.
As a child, I was encouraged to read. There were always books in our house and there were regular excursions to the local library. I remember the excitement of picking out the maximum number of books, the way the librarian stamped the due date on the back, and the anticipation of taking them home and choosing which to read first.
As the youngest child, I often had to accompany my mother to her many social outings at the homes of her friends. She would tell me to pick a book to take with me and seat me somewhere on the periphery of the group. Fortunately for both of us, I was happily - and quietly - lost in reading while the women got on with whatever they were doing.
Looking back, I wonder if it was my mother’s encouragement that made me into the reader I became or if it was my natural disposition. Perhaps a bit of both.
Without that encouragement, would I have taken to the enjoyment and thrill of losing myself in stories? Without growing up in a house where books were a constant, would I have seen the wonder of their magic? What makes someone a reader? Why do some people grow up deriving great pleasure in reading, while others don’t?
Educators know that a lot rides on how activities are presented to children. The culture of reading that parents create shows a strong correlation to kids’ eventual interests. The presence of books is not magically transformative. But a parent’s influence and a positive attitude toward the experience of reading, is a large factor in whether a child will find pleasure in reading. Of course, it’s not the only factor at play, but it is one that has a huge influence.
I had some excellent teachers when I was young who also encouraged my reading habits but I credit my mom for my love of books and the pleasure they give me. I can’t even guess how she had time to read but her love of a good story was passed on to me and I’m better for it.
Who influenced you in your reading habits? Have you ever thought about how you became a reader? Drop me a line or leave a comment - who gave you the gift of reading?
Until next time, happy reading!