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Musing Mondays – Love of Reading

Today’s Musing Monday meme asks:

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Was it from a particular person, or person(s)? Do you remember any books that you read, or were read to you, as a young child? (question courtesy of Diane)

I think it would make an interesting study to see if a love of reading is more a matter of Nature or Nurture. I tend to think, based on my own limited research (3 children) that it is more matter of Nature.

For myself, I am really not sure where I developed my love of reading. I do remember my parents reading to me when I was small – most notably the Little Golden Books (The Poky Little Puppy was among my favorites). As I grew the small books gave way to a large book of Fairy Tales, with few pictures and “lots of words” I remember pretending that I could read those words along with my father – and desperately wanting to be able to pick up a book and read it on my own (I have always been an independent person, and I did not like relying on my parents’ free time to enjoy reading a book. Granted, I could look at the pictures and make up the story, but even at the young age of 3 I was developing my black and white world: there is a right way to read the story and I wanted to do it the right way).

I learned to read in Kindergarten, and that skill was continually refined through 1st and 2nd grade as we would “real aloud” in class. I remember reading my first Little Bear chapter book, and feeling quite proud.

I wonder if my love of reading was somehow enhanced by the era in which I grew up. The 1960s was not as media intense when I was little; we only had 4 television stations were ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. In addition I lived in Houston, TX for the first 11 years of my life and Houston in the summer is not conducive to outside activities. My limited memory recalls that I basically had 3 summer-time options: playing dolls (which I never really enjoyed); building legos with my brother (which did not hold my attention for long as my limited brain could only make square and rectangle shapes out of the blocks) or reading. I chose to immerse myself in the tales of Nancy Drew and her suspenseful “who-done-it” mysteries.

I will admit that while my love of reading never waned, the time spent on recreational reading decreased dramatically from the time I entered college until about the age of 40. I am now making up for that lost time – and consider reading my escape activity.

But back to my nature vs nurture question. I have 3 children: 1 abhors reading; 1 is rather indifferent; and 1 seems to enjoy reading as much as her mother. All 3 children were raised in the same way. I would read them from the time they were 6 weeks old. I would read to them in the morning, afternoon, and evening. A favorite series of all the children was the Berenstain Bears and the lessons taught still ring true today (“some people put others down in order to bring themselves up”) Once they became old enough to read themselves, I would take them to the library and/or bookstore and encourage them to select books that would be of interest to them. Every Christmas the final gift of the day would be at least one new book. This gift would be given to the children as I tucked them in at night – in the hopes that the magic of Christmas would be extended AND they would want to stay up late and read.

I used to be sad and discouraged that my two older children did not enjoy reading, but I have come to realize that it is not the end of the earth. They are both well-adjusted children who are successful in their respective career paths. I have also learned to cherish the common bond that I share with my youngest child. We are now at the point where we can read the same book and actually discuss it. We have similar literary tastes (albeit I am not as fond of the Twilight books as she is), and that is a blessing. In fact, she has decided that she needs to accompany me to BEA next year — and I hope I have the funds to make that wish a reality.

11 Comments

  • Kim

    I agree with you–I am leaning towards the nature camp. Out of my 4 kids, 2 really seem to love to read. I wonder if life stage is playing a part in the other 2–my college age son just doesn’t have time and he said when he does have time he feels like he should be reading something for class. The 16 year old is just a go getter, doer and shaker and to just sit during the day doesn’t do it for him-he does read a little when he goes to bed. And then there is my daughter, the married one. She reads a lot, as well as her husband, but I know her love for reading waned a bit while in college and grad school. She was the one who took a book everywhere she went while growing up. Now she is going to be a mommy and I am sure she will be reading from the get go to her little one.
    Sam, the youngest is my voracious reader and really seems to love it.

    I also read to my kiddos as infants and there was story time before bed every night until they read independently-even then read alouds continued during the day as part of our curriculum when I home-schooled them all!

    Like so many things, when you raise multiple children, they seem to turn into their own persons even when you raise them all the same way!
    Happy Monday and smiles!
    Kim

  • Ti

    I have asked myself this question many times as one of my kids is a reader, and one isn’t (well, not so much). I read to them equally as babies, bought them books all the time. They both saw me reading but only one loves to read.

    I think it’s nature but I do think you can cultivate a love of certain books and down the line make reading a more enjoyable experience for the non-reader.

  • Sherrie

    Hi!
    I read to my son as a child and I was a reader, but alas, he isn’t a reader. So I would have to agree it is nature not nurture! Have a great day!!

    Sherrie

  • Kaye

    I definitely think it is nature. My youngest would love to go to the library while the older one would say she was getting a headache the minute we pulled into the library parking lot.But today they are both readers. I think the older one starting reading as something to occupy the time as she takes the train into Boston every day. As far back as I can remember I loved to read. Highlight of the week was going to the library. Of course, when I was growing up, we didn’t have the luxury of 4 tv stations!

  • Matt

    I think the passion for love can be encouraged but not imbued as if you’re teaching them to speak. The children have to be taken in by reading materials that pique their interests. My parents never had time to read to me and my love for books was fueled by my sickness and visits to the library.

  • Reading Addict

    I’d probably go with Nature, but there’s no harm in pushing the Nurture part, either! My kids are 13 (twins) and 14 and they still love it when I read to them. The shared book conversations keep us in touch, provide a lot of laughs and it encourages them to follow along or pick the next read!

  • Amy

    I think it’s a combination, based on my experiences working with adults of all reading levels. A lot of it has to do with how one learns to read.

    Just out of curiosity…did you or the school use phonics in teaching reading?

    In any case, at least you’ve got one reader out of the bunch!

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