Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Family that Reads Together

As long as I can remember, I've had a book in my hand. Some of my earliest and happiest book memories were my Little Golden Books, namely the Pokey Little Puppy. I've already mentioned in a previous blog post that I'm devoting my summer to reading as much as possible. You know who else is doing that? My 12 year-old niece, Rachel, who had a goal of 50 books for the summer. I'm not sure where her progress is but I know she read The Hunger Games sixteen times. But I'll get to her more in a bit. To the right you can see some basic stats from my Goodreads page. That is not an accurate number of books I've read; I am not in possession of all of my books right now and some of the books I've read in college and --gasp-- sold back I simply do not remember. The folly of taking three lit courses in one semester is that you don't really finish a book, anyway. Most of those books listed as "read" are also marked as owned. I own and cherish and covet my books, treating them with the respect that the printed page once garnered. I get upset if a page gets bent, if there is a crease in the spine. Some people might find this to be anal-retentive and overly-OCD, but I learned this respect for books and reading from my mother. You see, as far as I can remember, I had a book in my hand, and so did she. I grew up in a reading house hold.

I was always an above-average reader, and while I read the age-appropriate stuff for school (I did love the Black Stallion and Sweet Valley Twins/High books) at an early age I started picking up my Mom's Stephen King, John Saul, Dean Koontz. Some people questioned me reading these things, these masters of horror at so young an age but Mom wasn't worried. She knew that I understood what I was reading and could handle it. When I got into junior high and started babysitting my oldest niece Vikki after school, I would read her mother's romance novels, sneaking chapters like they were forbidden things; after all,  romance novels had sex in them. My friends and I used to sneak their mother's romance novels and open them to the creased spines just to read those scenes. Ah, misspent youth! In my adulthood, I have actually developed an appreciation for good romance novels (not thatFifty Shades crap so don't even go there).

I was having a casual conversation on Facebook with  friend and fellow blogger Ben, despairing over the fact that people just don't read these days. And it brought to mind a conversation I had with Veronica, author of reading blog Don't Panic! that kids aren't reading, even in school. I will absolutely not blame teachers here, because I feel that some things really do start at home. My Mom's a reader. I'm a reader, and so is my oldest brother David. My sister Tracy is a reader, and she and I share the odd trait of reading more in the summer, although I think she uses it as a way to get her daycare kids out of the house and to get a tan at the same time. By virtue, I think, of my sister's influence, my niece Rachel is an avid reader. She devours books like I used to at her age. So much so, in fact, that my sister invested in a Nook for Christmas for her. My nephew Danny reads, but not as avidly as Rachel. Recently, Tracy, Rachel and I went to our parent's camp and the whole car ride up and for the duration of the stay, Rachel was either reading on her Nook or her iPod. I couldn't help but be reminded of myself at that age and be really proud, and really happy that she loves reading.

It is vitally important that parents set an example for their kids. By the time they get to school, sometimes it's too late. Now, they may get lucky and get that really awesome teacher that is so passionate that inspires them to read and love reading, but that can sadly be rare as teachers become disillusioned and badgered by administration and entitled students and parents. I really can't express in words how I feel when I touch a book, smell a book, flip through the pages to see how many more I have to go. If I could bottle and sell that feeling just to get kids to read and love reading, I would. To me, there is no greater thing.

Well, okay. Sex is pretty awesome. And food. But I'll always have books.

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