Monday, February 28, 2011
Recipe for Raising Readers
There were certainly lots of books around our house when I was growing up. My mom had aquired an eclectic selection of novels via membership of a mail order book club in her pre-married life. My dad's books were mostly antique tomes about religion and history, some with fancy covers that would make you want to leaf through and admire the beautiful pictures. Dad's books were mostly printed in old German type and not accessible to a young child. I also distinctly remember a book with pictures from WWI and WWII. I am not sure why this horrible book sat around on one of the lower shelves. It certainly made an impression on me as a young child...
So maybe osmosis - being surrounded by a number of books - was a factor, since there wasn't much encouragement to read on my parents part. I recall my love for reading started in first grade. It was then, I bought my first book with my own money. I had saved up my allowance to purchase a book of fairy tales printed in cursive. In those days German kids were taught to read and write in cursive. We were never allowed to print letters. I'm not sure if they still teach kids that way in Germany. I surely loved learning to make those curly letters, lessons in Schoenschreiben (transl. writing prettily), and my first book that I could read by myself.
Maybe books were my way to escape the reality of a not so happy childhood. The Catholic girls' school I attended from 5th through 13th grade had a fairly small library with juvenile fiction tucked away under a stairwell somewhere. Only the older kids could use the "real" library while the younger students were limited to the "stairwell library" run by the nuns. It was the strangest little library you can imagine, but I read every book in it. I cannot recall ever being bored in my childhood. How could you be bored when there were so many great books to read?
It's harder these days to find the time for reading. After a long day of doing chores around the house, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kids, crafting, and working on the computer one gets too tired at night to read. Is that how my parents felt? Usually I fall asleep after a few pages.