reader

Late with entry 2 in the #kinderchat blog challenge.

Prompt: The story of you, as a reader. Who are you, as a reader? When and how did you learn to read? Did you love it right away? Did you have to learn to love it? Do you still  NOT love it? What is the story of your story with stories?

My childhood is a dim, distant memory, but I remember the exciting day that I was finally able to print my own name. That moment meant that I was able to sign up for my library card. I remember carefully writing my name on the form and having the librarian give me my card. It was a treasure. The key to the universe. It wasn’t the beginning of my reading life because my parents had instilled a love of books in me from a very early age, but it was the tipping point.

My dad read to us all the time. News stories at the breakfast or dinner table. Sherlock Holmes and Shakespeare in the evenings. Both my parents read constantly. Not quite as constantly as me, but they did have important grown up work that interrupted their reading lives.

When I was 8 years old, I had a goal. I wanted to read every single book in the children’s room.

That room was the most magical place in the world.

It held horse books by Marguerite Henry. Books about kids just like me by Beverly Cleary. Classics. Myths. Biographies. Andrew Lang’s colored fairy books.

I read every spare minute. I’d read while doing chores, hiding under a bush in my backyard, during school with a book tucked inside a textbook. I read while I walked to school. I swear that I knew the exact number of steps I had to take to get to the next curb. I barely looked up – walking and reading block to block to block.

I read in bed, a flashlight revealing to my mom or dad that I was once again defying my bedtime. They were never happy with my choice, but I know they understood because they are the reason that my sisters and I are all avid readers.

When I had my own kids, I was excited to share old favorites and new ones with them. Henry Huggins and Ramona were reunited with me. I can still hear my 4 year old son’s voice in my head as he read The Bears’ Picnic by Stan and Jan Berenstain. “Mother Bear, put your apron away. We’re going to go on a picnic today!” reprimanding his little sister, “Rachel! Stop bothering me!!”

That little sister grew up to be my reading companion. We share many of the same favorites. I remember when she was reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series for the first of MANY times and I said, “When you get to a certain part, you’ll need to talk to me, but you won’t be able to talk. Just call me and I’ll know.” One night, the phone rang, and I heard uncontrollable weeping on the other end. “I know, honey. I know. Just cry,” I told her. You can’t comfort when a beloved character is going through tragedy. You can only be there, understanding.

My youngest daughter grew up in a different generation. I read Harry Potter to her a year before the rest of the nation caught onto the magnificence of the first book in the series. She aged along with Harry. We spent wonderful, unforgettable times at midnight release parties at Barnes and Noble. We would purchase two copies of each book and while I drove home, she would start reading to me. Upon arriving, we’d curl up in our reading spaces and read non-stop until completion, stopping to comment or cry or cheer.

Now that my children are grown, we still share books and recommendations. My mom still gives me reading tips and I share books with her, too.

I never fulfilled my wish to read my way around that children’s room, but I’m lucky enough to have a job that gives me an excuse to read books all day long. Elephant and Piggie sit next to Ferdinand. New friends and old friends.

Who am I as a reader? I’m a kid at heart. Peter Pan. Ramona. Pippi. Newt.

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