My first book related memory is learning to read with my parents. I remember sitting on my father’s lap and reading Ramona the Pest. I must have been about 5 years old at the time. I am not entirely sure the memory is accurate. It doesn’t matter, this was a common occurrence during my childhood. My parents are voracious readers. There have always been books in their home. Their night tables are still stacked with the books they are reading or will be reading soon. I spent more time at the library as a child than I did in any bookstore.
My parents had a huge influence over what I read. It was my mother who often selected my childhood books from the Ramona series to All of a Kind Family. It was because of my mother that I fell in love with mystery novels. Her vast collection of the original Nancy Drew mysteries. The yellow bound books had a prominent place on the bookshelf. My mother had most, if not all the books. As I got older I often went to the books she had on bookshelves, primarily Judaica books (fiction and non-fiction).
My father’s influence came later once I was able to understand Dune and Lord of the Rings as an adult. It was my father who brought Harry Potter into the house with my sister. They both devoured the books, but it took me longer to get interested in them. Actually, it took the first movie for me to get interested in them. My father and I often see movies and then want to read the books. This happened with the Three Musketeers series. We saw a movie (probably The Man in the Iron Mask) and soon after he was reading the series. While I don’t love the napoleonic era naval books he loves, I have read many of them (because of the Book Lust challenge). He has so many my mother doesn’t want me to return them.
I can tell you my parents favorite books. My mother love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I have yet to read it. My father still has his original copies of The Lord of The Rings. My desire to hold on to all my books comes from my father, but my practical ability to only keep the most important comes from my mother.
Looking back even further, I know which of their respective parents influenced my parent’s reading. My mother’s father devours so many mysteries and thrillers that he can’t remember which one he has read. He swears they all have the same plot. I always bring him home the newest Baldacci or Patterson from Book Expo and swear to him that he hasn’t read it before. My father’s father reads science fiction and fantasy in all my memories of him (he is still alive, I just don’t see him very often).
I look at the people around me, especially those who have children, and I can tell what type of readers their kids will be. All I have to do is look at their parents. Readers fill their homes with books. Readers make time to read by themselves and with their kids. In my family I had to read for about 30 minutes a night when I was first getting comfortable reading on my own. Readers talk about reading. There are very few books in my collection that are off limits for borrowing. Readers give books as gifts (and put some thought into their selected title). Readers share their reading with the people around them. That’s how you make new readers.
How did your parents influence your reading?