I thank my mother for instilling in me, a love of books. She always made them available to me and despite her rigid rules of the house, she never made me put a book away of i were reading past curfew. I grew up in a three-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. Because my sisters and I shared a bedroom, the third room was made into a den. Shelves lined the walls filled with books covering a range of topics- from medicine to fiction to history. And when there was no more room left on the shelves, books spilled out into the hallway and onto make-shift bookshelves in my walk-in closet and on my desk. I lived in a world of words, often writing as much as I read.
My husband had a different experience. He read a lot- usually stories from the Bible- but that fizzled as he got older. That is until ninth grade. His English teacher challenged him to read, complete, and report one, “The Firm” by John Grisham. Guaranteed a “B,” he read the entire book in two weeks and was so engrossed in it, he could not put it down. Forget the “B,” he earned an “A-,” and even more so, he developed a love of books.
While our stories differ, our love of reading is yet another bond in our relationship. Unfortunately, at times life does not provide a lot of time for reading and at times we were barely reading 2-3 books a year for pleasure. After The Tornado was born we made it a point to surround her with books. Of all the things we wanted her to inherit from us, a love of reading was definitely one of the most important. For her first birthday I asked all guest to limit their gifts to books and encouraged them to share their childhood favorites with her. We received so many great books and hardly a night passed without one or two stories.
A few months after she turned two, we began reading “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” by C.S Lewis together. I say together, because while she could not read, she was so interested in the story that she would never want us to stop. She refers to it as “the Lucy” book and we recently decided to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series starting with “The Magician’s Nephew,” the first book in the series.
But reading is not the only way that we try t introduce her to books. We also take her to the bookstore (Barnes & Noble is our favorite and she calls it the library because we sit around reading for hours). We also take her to the library but our local library, while beautiful, is an unorganized mess of limited titles and very bitter employees. Even still, The Tornado is very happy to take field trips to the library and to the bookstore. And when not there, we write stories together. She narrates her own version of fairy tales and I write them down hoping to create a record of our stories for when she is able to write and read on her own.
It makes me sad when other parents would rather watch television than read a book with their children. It breaks my heart when I hear children and adults say that they don’t like to read or are not into books. Books are such an import record of our lives. They record experiences and provide access to worlds unknown to those who read them. We love to lose ourselves in book and sometimes, I don’t want to find my way back. And as long as The Tornado is there with me, I’m cool!