Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Biggest Reading Influence

It's been ages since I did one of these posts, where I yap about a book, author, or other bookish subject that's had a profound impact on me as a reader. It's challenging sometimes just keeping up with the everyday blog stuff like reviews and the occasional meme, so posts like these tend to get pushed to the backburner.

I've been thinking about writing on this particular topic for a while, but I've been hesitant because personally, I hate cloying sentimentality, and I'm nervous about my little story coming off like that, despite my best efforts to avoid going there. But I've also been in a blogging funk lately and doing a lot of second guessing over content. So, in the spirit of blogging about what I feel like blogging about, I'm writing this post because it feels like the right time for it.

I never would have become the reading fanatic that I am today had it not been for my parents. They fostered my love of books from as far back as I can remember. Some of my most treasured memories are of my mom reading to me when I was little. She did the best character voices, and she didn't mind when I asked her to read me the same book over and over and over again.

I didn't understand until I was older why it was always my mom who'd read to me. My dad had quit school when he was 16 and started working full time. His parents didn't give him too much of a hassle over it because he was also helping support his five younger sisters at home (they were a family of ten all together). My dad never went back to school, and I think he tried to keep quiet how poor his reading skills were, but he encouraged me to read as much as my mom did. He often came home from work with the best surprise I could ask for—a new book. My parents were far from wealthy, but growing up, I never wanted for books to read, whether they were bought or borrowed from the library. We went to the library often, and I always had all of the time in the world in there to browse (well, until the library closed, anyway).

My dad will be gone four years on Tuesday, my mom eight years next month. One of the many, many things I regret never telling them was how grateful I am that they made reading such a vital part of my life. Every Sweet Valley Twins book they bought for me in Waldenbooks whenever we went to the mall, every trip we made to the Greenpoint branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, every massive book haul they let me do at school book fairs—I wouldn't love books as much as I do now without all of those things and so many others like them.

My mom, my dad, & me

20 comments:

  1. That's so sweet!! Love your story!

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  2. These anniversaries are a poignant time definitely for reflection and affect everyone differently. I'm so sorry that you've lost your parents. My mom, like your parents, encouraged me to read...often buying me books through the book fairs at school and taking me to get my pizza hut prizes when I won through the accelerated reader program. I will say that when I see my son's eyes light up at a particular part in a book he's reading now and run in to tell me about a character he just read about from a book I bought him, I can tell that my encouraging him to read is something he loves about me. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

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    1. That is so wonderful that you and your son share a love of reading! I loved that book spine poem he composed that you featured on your blog! I don't have kids of my own and have sort of lived vicariously by being so close to my cousins as they've grown up; something that will always have a special place in my heart is all of the book talks we've had together.

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  3. What a delightful and meaningful post! My mother was the big push for reading and education in my family. She graduated from the U. of Mich. in 1940 when women still weren't going to college in great numbers. My dad just barely made it thru high school. Our weekly trips to the library and regular book reading sessions at home really established a love of books and reading in my siblings and myself. I followed the same pattern with my two girls and am endeavoring to continue with my granddaughter. Thanks for reminding me of how important my mother's love of reading had and will continue to have in our family!

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    1. It makes me so happy to hear about parents, grandparents, really any adults who take the time to encourage kids to read, especially nowadays, when there are so many other things competing for their attention. I love hearing stories about how a love of reading is passed down from generation to generation; thanks for sharing yours!

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  4. I love this!! My mom introduced me to reading and I love her for it. Great picture as well!

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    1. I loved going to the library with my mom during summer vacations while my dad was at work. We went at least once a week, and I usually got a McDonald's Happy Meal on the way home. Summer days didn't get much better than that!

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  5. I love this post! I feel that way about my Mom..lifelong librarian and lover of books!

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    1. I loved the Mother's Day post you did together! And that is so awesome that she's a librarian!

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  6. I have a reading influence post about my sister drafter, I LOVE reading about people that influenced others to read. I'm so glad your parents were so encouraging and that their love helped you love books. And I teared up reading your story, thank you for sharing it!

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    1. I love reading about people's reading influences, too. I'm looking forward to reading your post!

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  7. Ahhh this was a lovely post, thank you so much for sharing! It's funny how looking back you realize how simple gestures like a parent reading to his child or another always making books available have such an huge impact on the people we grow up to be. Growing up it was just me and my mom and even though we weren't rich by any means, I always had plenty of books at my disposal - like those Sweet Valley ones! She must have bought me hundreds of those >.< hehe She's always loved to read though, and I grew up with stacked bookshelves all around the house & multiple trips to the bookstore. And some of my fondest memories of my childhood involve her reading to me...mostly fairytales and Sesame Street books lol. I'm sure your parents knew that it was their efforts that allowed you to grow into the reader you are now ♥

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    1. I loved Sesame Street books as a kid, too! I don't know how many times I borrowed the one about Grover's first day of school from the library, lol. I've loved reading everyone's memories of being read to as a child; that so many of us have that in common says so much about the importance of being surrounded by books from an early age.

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  8. Lovely post and photo, Lee! Thanks for sharing. My mum influenced my love of books too by teaching me to read :)

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    1. I definitely wouldn't be the reader I am now without the encouragement I received growing up. And we all share a similar story- it's just wonderful. :)

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  9. This was a very lovely post. I think just from seeing how much you loved books would have been enough for your parents.

    It's funny but I honestly can't remember how I learned to read but my mom said it was from learning videos ^_^. My family aren't really big readers but they always encouraged it (except of course when I did more reading then studying *cough cough*)

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    1. I sometimes got in trouble in school for reading a book after I'd finished my classroom work. You would have thought that my teacher would have been happy that at least I was reading instead of talking or goofing around, lol.

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