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Who Helped You Love To Read?

mom and girl3

My mom has a room in her house that is full of books.

I’m not exaggerating when I say an entire wall in that room has shelves that are filled with novels, memoirs, and volumes and volumes of books.

She loves westerns. I swear there must be 80 Louis L’amour westerns on those shelves. I’m not sure if Louis wrote that many books, but I’d wager that she has most, if not all, his novels.

If books were edible, my mom’s house would be a great place to go to during the zombie apocalypse. If you’re like me, and might prefer books to food, her house might be a great place to go during a zombie apocalypse anyway.

Growing up, some of my earliest memories involve reading with my mom. Either she was reading to me, or she was actively taking part in my growing love of reading.

I loved to read, she recognized that, and she pushed me in that direction.

I read The Boxcar Children and The Hardy Boys books with her and, eventually, by myself. I remember getting a few dollars every year to buy some books from the “book fair” at my elementary school.

Without a doubt, one of the many things my mom passed along to me was her love of reading.

I can’t say we always have the same taste in books. I’m not a big fan of westerns, and the thought of my mother reading Infinite Jest makes my brain parts shut down.

I would guess we’ve all got that one person in our lives who showed us how to love reading. They did more than just teach us how to read. They planted some kind of undying literary seed that continues to grow as we get older.

Those people that hate reading…did they just not have a good reading role model in their life? Or is their some inherent qualities that make the anti-readers so anti-reading? What’s up with those people?

I love reading with my little boy, and I can’t wait to begin reading more in-depth stories with him soon, maybe Narnia. As you might know, the kid loves lions.

I think that’s the best way I could give thanks to my mother—by doing the same thing for my sons, her grandsons.

Who passed on their love of reading to you?

(Image: Brockton Post Schools)

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  1. Working on my memoir, I recently edited a bit about Miss Sophie – my book encourager. Hope you don’t mind my sharing. At this time I was living at home and being abused by my parents. Books saved me.

    After lunch it’s bookmobile time. I bring my returns to the air-conditioned trailer parked on the corner near Miss Sophie’s house. Even though I can read harder books, they only let me check out fourth grade ones. I run my fingers along the shelves and look for books with a good story and lots of pages so they last a long time. I choose: Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoore Manor, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and Cherry Ames: Student Nurse. Wish I could check out more than three. I’ll probably read each of these twice before the bookmobile returns next week.

    From her porch swing, Miss Sophie says, “Shirley, come, sit a minute.” She lives alone and always has something nice to say when Mommy and I walk past her house. “Want a cookie?”

    “Sure, thanks.” I munch on a homemade chocolate chip cookie.
    “What’d you get?”

    I hand her my books.

    She looks through the titles, “Good choices,” and gives them back to me. “I love books.”

    “Me too. What’s your favorite story?”

    “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

    “Never heard of that, but I’d love to read it. I can only check out fourth grade books and that one’s not on the shelves. Makes me mad cause I can read grownup books.”

    “I’m sure you can. Want to see my library?”

    I nod.

    Near the fireplace in her living room, two bookshelves taller than me overflow with books.

    “You’re soooo lucky! Wish I had my own library.”

    “If your Mom says it’s ok, I’ll loan you mine if you promise to take care of them.”

    “I promise.”

    After Mommy gives permission, Miss Sophie hands me The Count of Monte Cristo.

    She’s right; it’s a great story. I feel sorry for the Count, but Valentine and Haydee are so lucky to be rescued by him. The Count gives Valentine a few drops of medicine that makes her look like she’s dead. Her family was trying to kill her and the Count knew that, only by her seeming to be dead could she be saved, so he gave her those drops. After the family buries her, the Count comes, revives her, and gets her to the man she loves. Wish I had some of that poison so I could be freed from this house. But there is no Count telling me to wait and hope. I wait, but there is no hope.

    When I return the book, Miss Sophie loans me Little Women. I sneak a flashlight into bed and read under m y covers to find out what happens to Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Then I get Little Men. Now I don’t have to read a bookmobile book twice. Getting lost in stories helps me escape

    September 25, 2013
    • Great passage, Heather. Thanks for sharing.

      September 25, 2013
  2. My great-grandmother. She was a retired school teacher. I went to her house everyday after school when I was young and she would have me read aloud to her for hours. I loved every second! She inspired me greatly.

    September 25, 2013
  3. Awesome post. Awesome blog. My mother read one Harlequin Romance after another and had stacks and stacks of them. She carried me to the public library once a week and my interests were soon very broad and have remained so. Thank God for Mom’s love of books!

    September 25, 2013
  4. My husband is not a huge reader, so I’ve thought a lot about reading influences. I think upbringing has a HUGE impact. I remember weekly trips to the library with my mom, trying to read the books my older brother read, my dad writing knock-off Berenstain Bears books to teach me lessons. I wrote about my reading influences (and the 6 kids’ books I remember most from my childhood) here:

    September 25, 2013
    • I loved the Berenstain Bears too. My little boy watches the cartoon sometimes.

      September 25, 2013
  5. My grandmother passed it along to me. She raised me until I was four and read to me every night from the Golden Books she bought at the grocery store.

    September 25, 2013
  6. bba #

    My Aunt Tricia. She gave me The Hobbit when I was in maybe the 5th grade and my head exploded. I had read books before, but that opened up a whole universe. It made me realize I could have this entire world in my hands. It was just so personal, learning how you can experience something like that solo. Up to that point in life most all of your experiences are delegated by an adult. This felt new and like it was just mine. Also, I think discovering reading with a book like that really went a long way in developing my love of story. I just love a good story, whether it’s fiction or “true”, I can’t get enough of them.

    My mom should also get a lot of props for letting me read whatever I wanted. She never took one book away from me. I remember putting down a couple of Stephen King books to come back to a few years later because they scared me so much, but it was by choice. That is a great gift to give a child.

    September 25, 2013
    • Love the last paragraph.

      September 25, 2013
  7. debbierodgers #

    My mother read to me from the time I was thirteen months old and jealous of my new brother taking up her lap space. I don’t remember her reading to me much once I could read on my own (around four), but she did take us to the library as often as we wanted and let us roam there and choose our own books, and she gave us books as gifts. I don’t remember any other influences – unless you count my brother and my best friend who were both voracious readers.

    September 25, 2013
  8. My mum, too. She took it from her mum, I took it from her. I’ll give it to someone else, one day.
    Makes me think of that great quote about literature and learning from the end of the play ‘The History Boys’ -
    ‘Pass the parcel. That’s sometimes all you can do. Take it, feel it, and pass it on. Not for me, not for you, but for someone, somewhere, one day. Pass it on, boys. That’s the game I want you to learn. Pass it on.’

    September 25, 2013
  9. Love this post. My parents never had time to read to us, but I had a second grade teacher who loved reading and she would buy me books every year as gifts and sometimes after she came back from her travels (I still remember the copy of Heidi she gave me after her trip to Switzerland). We’d write letters and she would share with me her reading goals, how many books she had read that year, etc. She is in her mid-70s now and we are still friends, and she has been sending my now 9-year-old son books ever since he was a baby.

    I have a very active, “typical” boy for a son who takes after my athletic husband, but I’ve managed to get him to love reading. It wasn’t a 100% smooth ride but after some bumps here and there I am so happy to see him just obsessed with reading now. I hope you will enjoy building your reading life with your little boy too. It’s the best feeling, to read together and to be able to talk books together. I hope that when my son grows up he’ll be able to say “My mom got me to love reading.”

    Have you read The End of Your Life Book Club? It’s about an adult son who starts a book club with his dying mother, also the person who got him to love reading.

    September 25, 2013
  10. Both parents read to me a lot and my older brothers did also. I was lucky. I think that those who hate reading never had an example set for them or never had someone to encourage them. But doesn’t the spark have to come from our genetic mix? I would think so because if you don’t have an inclination, it might be because you do not have the capability for understanding and comprehending the material.

    September 25, 2013
  11. I hope that i have passed down my book’s love to my two daughters. I think so. My parents were not great readers. But they have meters of books for ornament and I have read all of

    September 25, 2013
  12. My dad <3 I went to bed every night listening to him read me things like 'The Hobbit.' Anything of a lesser quality was not allowed, neither of us ever wanted anything to do with any children's books.

    September 25, 2013
    • That’s great. I didn’t discover The Hobbit until I was older. It’s one that I want to read with my son.

      September 25, 2013
  13. My mom read me The boxcar children, the hardy boys and when I was very young I remember all the Bernstein Bears books. She bought me nearly every Babysitter’s Club book there was because I devoured them so quickly. She encouraged me to keep reading by giving me her Nancy Drew books that she had when she was a teen and never got mad at me for staying up all night trying to finish Harry Potter.

    September 25, 2013
  14. Noelle #

    That’s an interesting question. I’m a voracious reader; a former English major; and a current copyeditor, composition instructor, and library worker. Certainly my mother was a big influence on me, and never said no when I asked for a book, even when I wanted Pride and Prejudice at about 8 years old, when it was much too complicated for me.

    My half-sister, on the other hand, is not a big reader. She does read, but not like I do, and a lot of her reading is from magazines. Her mother (we share a father) is also a dedicated reader, and we’ve talked about why my sister isn’t as interested in reading as we are. Is it a gene that skipped a generation? Did my dad and stepmom not read to her long enough when she was little? We haven’t figured it out.

    September 25, 2013
  15. Both of my parents – they used to take turns reading with me each night. It was always Goosebumps or Boxcar Kids with Dad and American Girls with Mom.

    September 25, 2013
  16. Lucille #

    I was the fourth of five children so there was little time for cuddling up with a parent for reading. But my dad, who only had an 8th grade education, made a point of purchasing a bookshelf when we moved to a new house in the early 1950s and subscribing to the Book of the Month Club. My mom took me and my little brother to the library regularly and set us loose in the children’s section. Both parents read and I think seeing a parent reading, and enjoying it, is a major contributor to the passing on of a lifetime habit. And even though money was sometimes tight, they always subscribed to a good daily newspaper,

    September 25, 2013
  17. I can’t really think of one person that comes to mind. Books were my escape from reality. A large part of how I coped with the difficult family situation I was in as I grew up revolved around books and burying myself in other people’s worlds. But I did have friends that read a lot.

    September 25, 2013
  18. Thank you so much for writing such a wonderful post! It is so beautiful! And the bets part is, that I could incredibly connect with it! I wrote a post on a similar topic, dedicated to my father and one of my favourite childhood authors. I’d be glad to get some feedback form you on it!
    You can find it here:
    Also, I must tell you, that you have a wonderful and very honest writing style. It was a pleasure reading this piece!

    September 25, 2013
    • Thank you for the compliment!

      September 25, 2013
  19. My mom and dad both read to us when we were little (and then my dad, the at-home parent, read to us until we went to college). For a while my grandmother lived with us, and every Saturday she’d take us to the local library, which was this stunning old mansion, and set us loose. For a solid year, I’d leave each Saturday with a stack of Nancy Drew stories. She’d let me read quietly all weekend. It was glorious.

    September 25, 2013
  20. My Dad was a sickly child and was not allowed to play outside with other kids much for fear of asthma attacks. He spent a lot of time in his home’s library filled with valuable works of art, furniture and volumes of books. I later saw this amazing place which was so much more than a room with a ladder that went to the tippy top shelves nearest the ceiling when I was allowed to visit my Grandfather when I was about six years old. In awe I realized, even at this young age, why my father had so many beautiful books stacked just so on the homemade shelves of the secondhand bookcase in our shabby little rented apartment. Dad was a tired and bitter laborer who had no time to read to his children but he was strict about handling books with respect. Mom was a beautiful, bright country girl with little education and a knack for knowing how to fix nearly everything and kept the family going on next to nothing. By the time my father was 16 years old he had undergone eye surgery and it was his fear of going blind that fueled his voracious appetite to read and memorize as many books as possible. He knew every verse and passage of the Holy Bible by heart along with all the great books of the most revered authors. He survived his surgeries with loss of vision in one eye and 20/20 in the other. When I was just a tiny girl, I would climb up on Daddy’s big chair and he would bring me a big book to read. One of my favorites was called “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and another one was “Moby Dick”. Thanks Dad. Up there in the big library in the sky, kook at me now, I am an English teacher and I teach people about loving and respecting books.

    September 25, 2013
    • Love this, Parker. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful story.

      September 25, 2013
  21. I was lucky to have parents and teachers and fellow bookworm friends who encouraged me to read, my mother especially. It blows my mind that there are parents out there would wouldn’t encourage their kids to read, even if they weren’t really into books themselves.

    September 25, 2013
  22. My mum would have been the one to pass on a love of reading, she jokes that all through my childhood my face looked like a Roald Dahl book and then from abour 11 onwards turned into a Harry Potter book. Crime is probably my favourite genre now, but I like to try reading a bit of everything. Right now I’m giving the BBC Big Read a go as part of my Before I’m 25 list. I hope I can pass on my love of reading to any children I have, I think it’s an important development of the imagination.

    September 25, 2013
  23. Denise #

    My Mom was the one. She read to my siblings and I each night after dinner. The Chronicles of Narnia. A Wrinkle in Time. The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings. The BFG. And it was awesome. Interestingly, my brother was there for all the reading also and he’s come to adulthood as a non-reader, while my sister and I are avid readers. I can’t explain it. Thanks for this post and congrats on your new baby, may he be a life-long reader too. (And if not, no big deal, he’ll have something else of yours about him.)

    September 25, 2013
  24. To cut a long story short, also in my case my mother played an important role in motivating me to love books or fairy tales such as Red Riding Hood to start with. Many thanks for your great question. Very bet regards

    September 25, 2013
  25. Carly #

    My parents both encouraged my love of reading from a young age and took me the library as often as I wanted. Even though my dad wasn’t much of a reader himself, he would find the time to read to me at night. This post reminds me of my favourite quote about books:

    The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. (Mark Twain)

    September 25, 2013
  26. My mother was the one who bought me lots of storybooks as a young child, but I remember my stepdad reading to me and doing all the good voices before I learned to read. When I wanted to learn to read for myself it was Little Women I decided on. No pictures for this 5 year old! My stepfather had tw patience to help me.

    When they went shopping I would wait in the bookstore and most times they’d buy me whatever books and magazines I wanted.

    When I grew older I could walk to the library up the street and browse the shelves for hours.

    My dad only got into reading for the first time in his thirties. But as soon as he did he wanted to share the passion for reading with me. He gave me Peter Benchley, Sydney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum and many others! My husband now also just got into reading in his thirties and he is loving it! We just got a library card for him and took our combined three kids to the library on saturday.

    I believe people who hate read are just people who don’t read. I’ve seen this for myself.

    I’ve started passing on this love of reading to my son from the time he was a baby, some people laughed as he probably had no idea I was reading to him. Before he was born I had already bought him the complete Winny The Pooh and Beatrix Potter box sets. He is only 2 now, but when he sees me reading he gets his books so I can read to him too. He already loves it! I’m passing it on to my 2 stepdaughters as well and I have another daughter on the way. We are becoming a book-loving family!

    Our house was recently broken into and they stole our TV. Nobody misses it. :-)

    September 25, 2013
  27. Both my parents were readers, along with 2 great aunts and a great uncle. I was surrounded by books my entire life and cannot remember the process of learning to read. I just always have, My preschool teacher was a huge influence, reading stacks of books to our class daily – a practice I later adopted when I taught early education – and my 4th grade teachers all focused strongly on the joys of reading. Literacy is now a huge platform for me – teach people to read, change the world.

    September 25, 2013
  28. It was my father who gave me this gift. He used to read to me when I was small and when I grew older we went to the library together on Saturday mornings – he would choose his 12 books and help me choose my three.
    I can remember being far to old to have someone read to me (maybe 11 or 12) and still pressing him to read me a story :-).

    September 25, 2013
  29. Suzanne #

    I come from a family of readers. Fond memories include my father taking my sisters and me to the public library in Phoenix on Sunday afternoons. I guess this is one of the reasons I became a librarian!

    September 25, 2013
  30. I am not sure where I received my love of reading. Who passed their love down to me. I think my mother, who was not a reader, recognized early that I loved books. And she started making sure that I was supplied with a good many. My earliest memories are of reading the Bible and fairy tales. It was the Bible that gave me a love of history.

    September 25, 2013
  31. Reblogged this on Sylvia Love Johnson.

    September 25, 2013
  32. My father is a reader. Ours is a small house, but each and every wall is filled with books, plus side tables are overflowing with books, and every possible storage cabinet.

    He converted my mom into a reader too, she used to read only romance, and he chided her all the time until she embarked on the classics just to shut him up. Now, she enjoys them so much, she reads classics for fun :)

    My brother rebelled against all that reading though, and he never reads anything apart from sports magazines, and I am firmly against buying books, because who wants to dust and catalogue all the time? I am a fan of libraries, I maintain only one shelf for my books and once it starts to overflow, sell off the old ones.

    I am beyond thrilled to discover that both my kids love reading though :)

    September 25, 2013
  33. I don’t remember reading that often growing up, but I love to read with my children now :)

    September 25, 2013
  34. My Great Aunt, who was the cause of a family feud but who I loved if only because every birthday and Christmas she send new hardbacks or book tokens for Waterstones and Dillons. I never did get to thank her for introducing me to my first love and longest lasting love, books. Love this post, happy reading!

    September 26, 2013
  35. For a long time I hated to read because it was hard for me. I was having trouble reading in kindergarten and I thought I had major reading problems. It turns out I needed glasses but they didn’t know and I certainly didn’t know. I just thought I was an idiot who couldn’t read. I finally got sorted out, but I think at that point reading still carried a kind of remembered pain. I remembered how stupid trying to read made me feel. It took me until I was about 13 to get out of that funk and after that my mother and sister really helped me to break free of the hate, and just to love reading.

    September 26, 2013
  36. Both of my parents are avid readers, so I grew up with a house full of books, too. Good stuff.

    September 26, 2013
  37. There were few books in our house, and we rarely visited the library. My parents were too busy working on the farm or at their “day jobs.” My aunt’s house, a short walk away, was chockablock with books–and dust. She was my library. But she didn’t have any picture books, so I cut my teeth on books like Jane Eyre and The Turn of the Screw. She was also a huge Louis L’Amour fan, but I didn’t like his books. She took me to library book sales where I could buy books for anywhere from a nickel to a quarter. I also recall how mature I felt when she told me I could “check out” Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Such a thrill! Without her influence, my childhood would have been much more impoverished.

    September 26, 2013
  38. I love this! It always makes me sad when I hear that people don’t like to read. I understand there are people that would rather watch the movie, but… kids?! I was a total bookworm! I spent almost every day at the library!

    My mom passed the love of reading on to me! Thanks to her, before I ever went to school, I was reading and writing! She’d read me things every night, she taught me how to read, and made me realize early on that an imagination can outweigh pictures.

    My dad, as well as my grandparents, all did enjoy reading, but it was mainly my mom.

    I have times where I may not read much at all but… I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading. I love it far too much. :)

    September 27, 2013
  39. Both my parents, my aunt Micki the English teacher, and yes, my younger brothers and sister. I read aloud to them, often, beginning with The Cat in the Hat and moving on up to the chronicles of Narnia. I still read aloud to my dear wife Rona. She’s a great one for reading herself, but she’s dyslexic, so 19th-century authors make much more sense to her when I interpret them with my voice.

    September 28, 2013
  40. My sister. I was a competitive little brat when I was little, and I wanted to have read everything that my sister had. So when she left a book lying around the house, I’d invariably read it, even if it was considered to be too advanced for my age (my sister’s four years older than me). So I never felt bogged down reading age-appropriate books that were really just a bunch of rubbish. It also helped that my sister had impeccable taste in books and that she discovered a great deal of interesting books that ultimately became bestsellers way before they became famous.

    September 28, 2013
  41. My mum read to me, but I was always surrounded by books. Mum bought me a book every second weekend when I went to her house, though, so that must have had a huge impact on my love of reading. I just ate them up and did not but read. Lovely post!

    September 29, 2013
  42. Jan #

    When I was very very young, my parents would read me bedtime stories, the idea being I’d drift off to the sound of their voices. But, as my parents recount amusedly, I would listen with rapt attention to every word and when the story was done I’d ask for another one.

    No one else in my family reads as much as I do though I am told my mother used to as a teenager. I don’t feel that any single person really got me into reading. I think my interest in stories has always been there and my family did nothing to stifle my passion for reading. We’ve always had things to read around the house like Reader’s Digest, encyclopedias and I’ve always had my own little library.

    I guess it was just the general environment that I grew up in where my parents have always been supportive of my passions that spurned me into the reading life. And I am eternally grateful for it.

    October 1, 2013
  43. It was my mum for me, I used to get a book read to me every night before bed and then when I discovered cassette tapes and cds I used to have one of them with a story on it afterwards. At one point I think I was having a story read to me, listening to a story and then reading one myself every night!

    October 6, 2013
  44. My teachers, I would say and really, the writers and stories themselves. Catcher in the Rye, then Herman Hesse (Narcissus and Goldman), Orwell, John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” and Henry Miller all inspired me and introduced me to that mixed feeling of hardly being able to wait to pick up that book again and dreading it being over.

    October 7, 2013
  45. Republicou isso em MY DREAMS .

    October 9, 2013

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