Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about reading. I imagine that might sound funny, given I spend most of my waking hours thinking about books and the publishing industry. But, reading – though a huge part of the book and publishing industry, is very much its own animal. It’s alive. It lives and breathes in you. It finds you, one way or another, and becomes a part of you.
Reading is a gift. Reading is a passion. And, our introduction to reading is probably something we should think about and honor more than we do.
So, I’ve been thinking about my introduction to reading…that magic moment when the characters on the page actually became words, and I was able to READ!
I have 3 older sisters. As I think back, to the earliest memories of my childhood – I remember my sisters with their books. At home in our rooms – at the library – coming home from school. They always had those books!
I wanted so badly to be able to do what they were doing. So, I faked it a lot. Holding up a book, staring at the page, then turning the page at just the right time. Laughing or furrowing my brow — mimicking whatever expression they happened to have on their face while they were doing this elusive thing called “reading.”
I distinctly recall feeling incredibly frustrated by the whole thing. And I remember my sisters trying to help me learn to do what they were doing — to read. My oldest sister, Peg – ten years my senior — she actually made a bit of headway. I have fuzzily happy memories of sitting with her and her explaining letters and sounds, and words. But, mostly I remember having huge temper tantrums because I was NOT GETTING IT.
My mom was a lot better at the patience part of teaching reading. And, very good at helping me see the connection between the words and the story they told. I remember sitting with my mom and feeling very calmed and excited and hopeful about the process of learning to read. But, even with her help, I didn’t fully learn to read at home. And, being stubborn didn’t help. I have happy memories of going to the library, but my most vivid childhood library memory: the day I had to pay for the book that I cut up out of frustration. (I know – I defaced a book. I was the ultimate Bad Seed.)
Luckily, school happened. With morning session kindergarten at Ascension Lutheran School and the wonderful Miss Hook, it all came together for me. The alphabet, the words – the stories – READING! BAM! It took.
Yes, it pretty much took a small village to teach me to read: between my sisters and my parents and Miss Hook, and all the other teachers who taught me to read better and to appreciate reading, and of course, the authors themselves — I became a full-fledged member of the reading world.
So, thanks mommy; and thanks Peg and Jen and Chrystie; and thanks Miss Hook! And, thanks to all the reading mentors out there. You are all so very awesome!
And to anyone who happens to be reading this, please feel free to share your own stories about how you found reading, and who your reading mentors were/are. We’d love to hear from you!