Falling in love with reading can start as a child. Mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, older brothers and sisters, bring us to books, a light in their eyes brilliant with love we don't quite understand but know we want, too. Teachers let us linger with books, think about books, talk about books, write about books. Librarians share aisle after aisle of books they love with us, and, soon, too, friends, and bosses, co-workers, random encounters with readers on the subway, and we are aflame.
Maybe it begins with one book, that first love, the miracle of connecting with a story so deeply that it feels like it is written just for you. Read it again, we plead. And again. We do. More by that author and a random book here and there. It grows, new encounters, words and thoughts beautiful and perfectly strung together. We become frantic for more, better.
And it all begins with those first books, those first stories.
Here are some of mine.
Books that Came in the Mail
My book-loving mom signed me up for a book-a-month club early on. I couldn't wait for those packages to arrive in the mail. Go, Dog, Go. A Fish Out of Water. Early readers at first, but later real chapter books. Berries Goodman. Danny Dunn. Carolyn Haywood books.
Books from the Public Library
The first place we visited when we moved to a new town was the public library. I was fortunate my mom was a reader. There was a big children's book collection. I always got my ten-book quota. Half Magic and all the Edward Eager books. A Wrinkle in Time. By the Great Horn Spoon and other Sid Fleischman titles. Gone With the Wind.
Books from My School Library
My sixth grade teacher required us to read and report on a book a week. And not just any old books, mind you. We couldn't just skip the nonfiction books; our teacher wanted us to try a lot of genres. Unexpectedly, Genghis Khan grew on me. And Japan. Greek gods. I began to inch out of children's fiction only.
Books from My Grandpap's House
My grandfather was an amazing self-taught fellow who was forced to leave school when he was in eighth grade by his mother who told him it was time for him to get a job. He had a fabulous collection of history books that I just couldn't get enough of when we visited my grandparents for dinner every Sunday during my childhood. My aunt, who was only six years older than me, was an eclectic reader, too. I devoured her Superman comic books and her fantastic collection of abridgments of great children's fiction called Best in Children's Books including Grimm's Fairy Tales, Gulliver, Ulysses, Aesop's Fables.
Not all assigned reading is bad. Here are some that were assigned in high school that turned out to be excellent reads: Don Quixote, Metamorphosis, Glass Bead Game.
What books won you over to the light?