Monday, January 4, 2010

Early History of a Bibliophile...

My parents were initially the ones to get me interested in books. The popular books they’d read to put me to sleep were classics such as Goodnight Moon, The Salamander Room, The Polar Express, King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, Stellaluna, Where the Wild Things Are, The Last Basselope and some Dr. Seuss, just to name a few.

As I got a little older, my dad broke out old books he read as a kid, including the Encyclopedia Brown series, Baked Beans for Breakfast, and I’m pretty sure the Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service. We even tried a few R.L. Stine books.

For a while I liked hearing stories, but hated reading them. Nothing could get me to read, especially not the ridiculous “Bob books” that my school had. After a time (for some forgotten reason), I got the hang of reading, and really liked it.

Just before lunch, there were two reading groups with two different teachers. One was for beginners and the other for the kids that liked hearing longer stories. I was quickly placed in the latter after it was apparent I was bored with the former.

In the “advanced” group, the teacher read some of my favorite books: The Chronicles of Narnia series, and The Giver.

About this time, I tried to read My Side of the Mountain. My teacher sat me down one day and asked me to read the opening, and explain it to her to see if I could follow it.

“Who is telling the story?” she asked.
“I think it’s the falcon,” I said hesitantly.
“Why don’t you try reading a few more books before you jump into this one?”
Disappointed, I agreed, and hid it in my room. I eventually found it again, and read it with ease.


From about second to third grade I absolutely loved to read, but had a very narrow reading list that consisted of the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. Occasionally I read assigned books from school, and even reread Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Jean Craighead George’s classic My Side of the Mountain.

At one point, my mom actually tried to restrict my fiction reading to “more normal” books like the Hardy Boys. Apparently, being so interested in fantasy lands and aliens at my age didn’t seem normal to her. In the end, I really didn’t like the books she chose; but I eventually extended my interests in reading material.

Sometimes, you just have to let your kids read what they want to. Usually they’ll start sampling different materials and find new things that interest them. But, if you really don’t like what they’re reading, don’t try forcing them to read something else; it will ultimately fail. It’s much easier to start suggesting different genres and authors, let them decide if they like them or not.

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