My dad is a reader, and he'll read anything. He is a very well-rounded person. When I was a child he and my mom would rarely visit the grocery store without buying me a book, usually Little Golden Books. We ended up with quite a collection of them. I remember them reading to us when we were very young.
As time marched on my dad continued to set a good example of reading. He frequently took us to our local library in Greenfield, IN. Somehow, though, I managed not to fall under the spell of reading. My next older sister did though. I thought reading was boring and I wondered why she would choose to read.
Unfortunately that was the status quo for many years. I was in the midst of my high school years when I looked around our trigonometry class. We'd been given an assignment and I had finished it and was bored out of my gourd. That's when I noticed two other girls happily lost in reading novels they'd brought with them to class. Hmmm... Anything beats boredom, right? And so I investigated the titles they were reading the next time I went to the mall.
That was the first recreational reading I ever did. Sad, huh? But true. And I want to talk about it. I really think that while my parents certainly provided us with reading material and my dad set an example of reading for pleasure and information, that just wasn't enough for me. Now, my parents had their hands full. I was the oldest of six children and they ran a daycare as well as my dad working in the "real world". What do I think might have helped me?
Oh, I know the answer to that. I think it would have made an amazing difference for me if someone, anyone, had ever asked me about my interests (meaning a teacher). I was a real wallflower; and a "good girl". I always did as I was supposed to, never got into trouble; always turned in my assignments. I put little effort into my school work and managed to get decent enough grades for the lack of effort. I stayed beneath the radar. I was never particularly noticed by my teachers. By middle school I was certain I was completely invisible to most of them. I still believe that. I just didn't stand out. Still, if any one of them had ever asked me if I liked to read I'd have said no. But if they had attempted to engage me...hmmmm...what if?
And so I try very hard not to just set an example of reading around our children. That was especially true when I homeschooled them. I attempted to engage them. I encouraged them to read for pleasure. I tried to get them thinking about subjects that interest them. I've done okay. My results are not stellar, but everyone isn't as sold on reading as a past-time as I am. And so I continue to keep great books in our house. I make them accessible. I offer to take them to the library and they know I just can't say "no" if they ask me to buy a book! I also read to them as much as possible. With the busyness of school schedules and a home to maintain it isn't easy but I try to make the effort. It actually tends to happen more during the school year than during summer. We find it a peaceful addition to our bedtime routine. I try to read some titles to individual children and not to all of them at once just to make it more special and memorable. Also, I realize that while a title might be great for one child, it might not interest another.
I want our kids to enjoy reading. I feel that if a person enjoys reading they will read more frequently. People who read more frequently are going to be exposed to more and are going to strengthen their reading skills. I know I still try to strengthen mine. I also love to discuss great books. It is a wonderful way to interact witpeople and I enjoy that with our kids as much as with adults. I am happy to read juvenile titles too; they can be a lot of fun!
Today it is interesting to note that my dad reads more than ever. Of my five younger siblings, I would say that four of them read frequently and the other one probably wishes she could. My mother-in-law is a reader and we discuss books often. My husband's sister found herself rereading books as an adult which she was given as assigned reading in high school. That happened at the same time that her high school-aged kids were reading the books and invited discussions of the books and of her newly-found desire to read the titles...for pleasure even.