Hmmmmm, read. books. libraries. bookstores. I have a schizophrenic relationship with books. I was never a reader growing up. I think because I didn’t see it modeled as a child. I don’t remember my mom reading to me, although I’m sure she did. I don’t remember being encouraged to read except for school. Now, I’m positive I could have forgotten it, but I have no memories of my parents encouraging me to read. They read---but I didn’t really see much of it. From the time my dad walked in the door in the evening until he went to bed---and even after that when the TV was in their bedroom, the television was on. It was the nightly news, then the sitcoms or dramas…move to bedroom, the 10:00 news and then Johnny Carson. I know my mom would read during the day when I was at school, but, I was at school---I didn’t see it. I probably didn’t show much of an interest in reading, so I wasn’t encouraged to do it. Of course, it’s not really my parents’ fault—I could have been a reader, I just wasn’t.
After I went to college, my friends would sit around and talk about all the books they had read, I felt so insecure—and frankly, stupid. Why hadn’t I read that book in my literature class? Why hadn’t MY parents encouraged me to read the classics? How had I missed the Narnia series, Tolkien’s trilogy or Jane Austen’s beautiful stories? It fostered an insecurity I already had about my own intelligence and abilities intellectually. BUT, of course, I didn’t pick those books up during my down times at college---and I could have! I just wasn’t really that interested in reading. I think I hadn’t discovered how beautiful it was to escape into a new reality with a character in a story---to find an uncommon friendship with one of the Bennett sisters, or live at Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Because of these insecurities I was determined that my children would be surrounded by books, would look forward to reading time---at ALL times of the day. I was determined that they would discover this love of a fantasy world early on so it would whet their appetite for the great adventures to be discovered in books throughout their lives. So, we began the Narnia series while we were still in Tulsa—the girls were four and six. They LOVED them! I wish I could take credit for my daughters’ love of books. Both of them are voracious readers---they read early and read much. Joshua is still learning to love it. I still read aloud to him most nights. We are currently in the Hunger Games Series. Last year I read the entire Harry Potter series to him…well, actually, after the 4th book I checked out the audio books from the library!
Just as the Harry Potter series has captured so many children’s imaginations, it captured mine as well. I think I was sort of a child “in the reading world” when it came out. I hadn’t developed as I should as a reader. I credit J.K. Rowling with sparking my interest in reading again. I tore through the books as soon as I could get my hands on them---waiting in line at the midnight release for each subsequent book. I loved these books, but still hadn’t developed an appreciation for or love of the classics.
I remember a distinct moment in 2004 when Hannah was in 6th grade. We were in the car alone and she was telling me about her latest Humanities discussion---a rare peek into her school day! She began comparing Jane Austen to Charles Dickens and giving me all sorts of similarities and differences. (I was blown away and as soon as I got home I wrote her teacher, Mrs. Joni Bolin to thank her for her love of literature that had excited my girl to read the classics.) Hannah then began to speak of her passion for Pride and Prejudice and what great characters Austen created. I went out, picked up a copy and begin to read it. I fell in love with the story, with Mr. Bennett, with how vividly she created Mrs. Bennett-- with how much you can’t stand her, but you LOVE that you KNOW her! And, OF COURSE, who couldn’t love Mr. Darcy? I think I was changed. I would love to say that I have been a crazy reader of the classics and new books ever since---I haven’t, but I do read more than I used to. Summer is my reading time---I just find that when I don’t have much time to read, I don’t read. A chapter a night just frustrates me. I’d rather have several hours to really get into a story. Most recently, I bought the Hunger Games trilogy on my Kindle. What a fun read! One Saturday I spent the entire day reading. I hadn't done that in years---it was SO fun! Joshua began the book, but in the insanity of the end of the year he couldn’t finish it, so I began reading it aloud. I hope reading will capture his imagination one day soon. I am learning that it’s a beautiful escape!
I said at the beginning that I had a schizophrenic relationship with reading—I think it’s like this: When I’m reading I LOVE reading; but when I’m not, I don’t want to. It’s a bit of a chore for me to start a book---once I start one, I’ll finish it and LOVE it. Starting is hard for me because I just don’t have a lot of down time. Someday in the future I hope to have more time and I hope I can fill much of it with good reads---