Raised to Read

Although my mother wasn’t much of a reader, she honored my lifelong passion for the printed word, and took great pride in the early manifestations of my bookishness.  I was never denied a book, and whether it was obtained from the library or local department store, books were the things I most coveted throughout my childhood (along with fashion outfits for my Barbie doll).  I give my parents a lot of credit for indulging my book addiction, since an obsession for reading was probably rather foreign to them.

My son would likely have a different story to tell about me, and the way books figured in his life.  I suspect he would relate to Eudora Welty’s description of her mother, which I happened across yesterday while re-reading One Writer’s Beginnings

I think of her as reading so much of the time while doing something else.  In my mind’s eye, The Origin of Species is lying on the shelf in the pantry under a light dusting of flour – my mother was a bread maker, she’d pick it up, sit by the kitchen window and find her place, with one eye on the oven.  I remember her picking up The Man in Lower Ten while my hair got dry enough to unroll from a load of kid curlers trying to make me like my idol Mary Pickford.  A generation later, when my brother Walter was in the Navy and his two little girls often spent the day at our house, I remember Mother reading the new issue of Time magazine while taking the part of the Wolf in a game of “Little Red Riding Hood” with the children.  She’d just look up at the right time, long enough to answer – in character-“The better to eat you with my dear,” and go back to her place in the war news.

Reading is infectious, but there are lots of ways to raise a reader – just because you aren’t necessarily one yourself doesn’t mean your children won’t be.  I’m thankful my parents and grandparents recognized and nourished my love of stories, for it is one relationship that has stood the test of time.

All this by way of introduction to my essay, Raising a Reader, which appears in this week’s issue of BiblioBuffet.   Go read it – and the rest of this fine e-zine, which focuses on the living the literary life. It’s one of my favorite bookish reads each week.

And ~ keep reading.

 Postscript: Coincidentally, my essay at BiblioBuffet fits perfectly with the current Weekly Geeks theme~ which is yet another reason to click over there forthwith. *smiles*) 

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8 thoughts on “Raised to Read

  1. Becca, I just read your article and it is beautifully written. I know you are a bookaholic, but please keep on writing, too. I want to read your books!!!

  2. I’m off to read your article in a moment, but I just want to take time to pay tribute to my mother who was a reader and raised a reader. Or perhaps it should be to the teacher of my mother’s small village school. There were just twelve pupils there between the ages of five and fourteen, all of whom would leave school at fourteen and either go onto the land or into service, but she didn’t see why they shouldn’t take a knowledge of English Literature with them. So, every afternoon she read the great Classics to them, Dickens, Thackeray, Eliot. She instilled a life long love of books in my mother and she passed it on to me. That is a great teacher.

  3. Joan – Thanks so much for the kind words! Reading and writing have always gone together for me -one feed on the other 🙂

    Ann – you are so right to pay tribute to your mom. Instilling a love of reading in one’s own children is quite an accomplishment. Intsilling it in other children is even more spectacular. Good for her 🙂

  4. Oh, what a lovely article (and post)!

    My mom tells me that her mother’s love of reading drove her crazy when she was a kid. There she’d be (my grandmother, that is) with her nose deep in a book, surrounded by unwashed dishes, dirty floors, wailing children, etc. But my mom is a big reader too, and my kids seem to be headed in the same direction. Must be genetic. 🙂

  5. I will go and read the whole article!

    I do come from a family of readers. Apparently my grandmother used to earn extra money as a girl doing a little light cleaning and was to be found dusting in very desultory fashion as she read with a book in the other hand. I shudder to think what my son will say of me in years to come!

  6. I’m much the same as you, with books taking an equal place in my childhood world as Barbie and the stuffies. To this day, I multitask, book in hand! I really loved the excerpt. That’s lovely. And now, off to check your essay!

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