If I ever want to make myself really miserable, all I have to do is imagine a life without books. What if I had been born into a part of the world where women aren’t taught to read? What if I had been born into a time when books didn’t exist? What if I had been born into a family where reading isn’t considered a virtue? What if I had been born into a family who didn’t keep any books? Ugh!
My father isn’t a big reader, but he loves and respects the written word, and he spent much of my early childhood reading to me. My mother is a voracious reader. I love that word ‘voracious’. It seems to be one of those words that is automatically hooked to ‘reader’, just like ‘hearty’ is linked to ‘meal’. It means exceedingly eager or avid, and that sums up my mother’s reading habits. She asks for books for her birthday and Christmas presents, she always has a book and a magazine (or two) beside her bed, and my parent’s toilet contains a full range of magazines – from frivolous in topic (for my mother) to serious (for my father).
My own reading habits were cultivated early. My father and mother took turns to read to us children every night. EVERY night. That is, every night until we learnt to read. I think I had a library card before I attended school. I can remember learning to write being any great struggle – except for the fact my handwriting was dreadful. I was in rush to learn to write.
The minute I could write down my own stories, I did.
I’ve passed this love of reading down to my own children, using the same methods as my parents. I read to my babies before they could sit up. We had/have plenty of reading matter in the house, catering for every level of reading, from ABC books to picture books to chapter books. Both my children were reading before they went to school, and learnt to write with no effort.
It was a surprise when we discovered that my eldest child suffered from a mild form of learning disability and was never supposed to have learnt to read or write without assistance. To my elder child, a ‘p’, ‘b’, and ‘d’ all look the same, and often a 3 or an ‘E’ would be ‘flipped’ to face to wrong way. And yet, she had a reading age well in advance of her actual age. The specialist put it down to the daily routine of reading within the family, and that she was never ‘pressured’ to learn to read. By-the-bye, the problem was something she grew out of by the time she was a teenager. As an adult, she loves to read.
Reading has helped me through some hard times, by giving me the chance to ‘step away’ from a stressing situation, even for a few moments. The one time in my life I was too ill to concentrate to read, was the longest three days of my life.
I love the advent of eBooks. But nothing is ever going to replace the satisfaction of a new book!