I am an unabashed bibliophile. I’m gloriously happy when lost within the pages of a good book, one with characters I love and wish I could meet for coffee after their adventure is over, and a plot that is well crafted and without holes, and whenever possible, some sort of moral or point that resonates within me. Truly, I’ve been a blissful bibliophile since before I picked up my first book and read it on my own, and I don’t remember how old I was when I did that, but according to my mom I was young. I was a captive bibliophile before that – meaning that I had to have someone read to me. That job usually fell to my Mom or Dad, who are also blissful bibliophiles.
Studies show that it takes two things to make a child a reader later on in life. The first one is that parents must read to a child. We’ve all heard this; we live our lives by it. We read to our children numerous times everyday and spend countless hours at the library tracking down books that our children love, books that might inspire them and we re-read the books they are obsessed with until we think our brains will simply explode.
But here’s an interesting fact about my earlier book loving years. I have exactly two memories of being read to as a child. This irritates my mom to no end, since according to her she read to me several times a day, until I could read on my own, and then she still read to me until I was independent and capable of reading anything she put in my hands.
It’s also interesting, especially considering I remember dreams I had, events I went to, people I met only once, details of things I did with my cousins, my grandparents and aunts and uncles, splinters I refused to have removed until my dad got home from work, and how badly that antiseptic that stained your skin orange/red smelled and stung. I even remember its name, but can’t spell it, or find any record of it on the internet. I remember exact phrases that were spoken to me, dinners we had back when I had to sit on two phone books to eat at the table, all of this before we moved to Wyoming when I was five. I have an excellent memory, and I remember being read to exactly twice.
The first memory is of my dad on a rainy Saturday afternoon. He was laying on the couch (my parents still own “the Lawson sofa”, reading a thin paper back book with a color in the title. I wanted him to read it to me, I could tell it was captivating because I’d asked several times, but my pleas had fallen on deaf ears that were far, far away from the Lawson sofa and our living room. I couldn’t even get a monosyllabic response out of him. I finally resorted to a sleeve tug, which was guaranteed to get a response. Sleeve tugging and shoulder poking were always my last attempt to get some attention, because they were bound to get me unpleasant attention, but still, I wanted to hear that book.
My dad finally looked up, and surprisingly, he agreed to read the book out loud to me. (I suspect it was a ploy to teach me that grown-up books were not fun for kids) He read me 2 or 3 pages of one of John D MacDonald’s Travis McGee books. I have no idea which one now, and neither does he, but we know it was Travis McGee because all the books in that series have a color in the title. And I also know it was exceedingly confusing, had no pictures, despite the color in the title, and was rather boring. So the ploy worked. Kinda sorta. But it didn’t matter; I remember my dad reading Travis McGee to me, not Dr. Seuss, not A. A. Milne, but Travis McGee.
My second memory of being read to also involves my dad, much to my mom’s chagrin. I was in the second grade and attempting to wade through “Alice In Wonderland”. I remember thinking that I could read the words but they made no sense. I thought maybe I was reading the words wrong, and asked my dad to read it to me. So we climbed into the big armchair, and he read me a chapter or two of Alice, and I finally decided that I had been reading the words properly, they just didn’t make any sense, even when spoken out loud.
So if reading to a child is so important, and I have hardly any memories of being read to, and the only memories I do have are of decidedly unsatisfying experiences with books, then how did I grow up to be a first class bibliophile ?
-posted by Miss Allison, who tells you to come back on Friday and she’ll tell you that second thing you need to do help your child be a life long lover of books!
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