Growing a Reader

At Looks and Books, Jill has a great post about what it means to grow up in a reading family:

“…if your family (siblings, parents, grandparents) belongs to the “avid readers” category, does that automatically mean that you will be more interested in reading and writing; and, conversely, if your family doesn’t spend a great deal of time reading, does that mean you won’t develop a love of books?”

It’s a case of literary nature vs. nurture. I’m sure there are lots of studies I could quote about how reading with your children helps develop their reading comprehension, confidence, and enjoyment. And of course having books in your house or going to the library helps kids see that books are something to regularly enjoy.

Like Jill, my family is big on reading. We went to the library regularly when I was young; my mom signed us up for the Book-of-the-Month Club; books are given as gifts on Christmas or birthdays. In four grade, when we were looking at a new school, the headmaster asked my parents what I liked to do in my free time and they said, “She reads a lot.” So I’d say my family certainly encouraged my love of reading. Still, I think I’m inclined to books anyway. Neither of my parents do creative writing and that’s always been something I was interested in. So part of it is also my own interests.

I also have friends who are very smart and love reading now, but weren’t big readers when they were young. The first time a friend told me this, I was so surprised. Apparently when she was a kid, she didn’t like to sit still with a book and would rather have been outside swinging from trees and playing games with the neighborhood kids. It took her a little time to find books, and I’m sure that’s the case with a lot of readers.

Did you grow up in a family of readers? Do you think that impacted your life as a reader?

(image: Andrew Griffith)

3 thoughts on “Growing a Reader

  1. I did grow up in a family of readers and writers. I think that being read to and being taken to the library once a week was an integral part of shaping my love of the written word. I still read a lot, my husband reads a lot, and we read to our daughter every night and any time, really, when she brings us a book and asks to be read to, even if I’m in the middle of something. Every Friday, we are at the library and she loves her books. I think it’s one of the most important things a parent can do for a child, read and foster a love of books in a child.

  2. I always wish that reading were a bigger part of my family time growing up. My family does read a little, but I mostly discovered my love of reading and writing on my own. Some of us are just wired differently, I guess! My two sisters both have science degrees; my dad majored in math. I’m the only one who studied English lit!

  3. My dad was a big reader, my mom less so. I stubbornly taught myself to read when I was a kid, and I don’t remember my parents encouraging me. In school there were always competitions about reading, with accelerated reader points or stars on a board for books read…so I think the competition was a big motivator for me. I remember a trip to the book store in 8th grade when my dad was surprised I wanted Poe. The next year, it was classic philosophy. So he started reading the same books that I was, and we’d go out to dinner and talk about them in our own two person book club.

    Books literally saved my sister’s life–she was queer and out in high school, and bullied and ostracized a lot, even by staff. Our county library had this program where they mailed you books, so that’s how she got through those years.

    I don’t know that my little brother has read anything for fun since Harry Potter though–he’s a film editor and prefers visual stories. I think families can encourage reading, but there’s always going to be some who are big readers and those who aren’t. It’s a personality thing, I think.

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