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.