I loved reading when I was a child. My nose was always buried in a book.
Remember the series from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s? I tried to start a Babysitter’s Club several times. The Sweet Valley Twins, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, were the most beautiful girls I’d ever heard of. I wanted to be just like each of them in the Sweet Valley High books.
When Waldenbooks had the newest Super Edition, it was like Christmas. They actually had one about Christmas, I think. I loved my mom’s old Nancy Drew books from the 1950s, but the updated ones had faster cars and scarier mysteries. Every single chapter was a cliffhanger.
My friend Ashley and I both read nonstop. On Friday nights, between episodes of Full House and 20/20, we’d read, trading books when we finished our own. Our town had a book exchange, called The Book Exchange, where you could take your books for them to resell. I think we got 30 cents for each paperback. If it was brand new or a new release (like one of those Sweet Valley High Super Editions), you’d get a dollar or so. If you saved your store credit, you’d eventually be able to buy a used book.
We’d go to the library and spend the day there, going through the card catalog, hoping to find the next best book ever. We’d read old newspapers and magazines on the microfiche, too.
Once, I took three friends to my grandmother’s house for a week in the summer. It was the summer before eighth or ninth grade. We all read books the entire week. We’d take a break so play Spades a little, but, for the most part, we read and traded books.
I was an avid reader until my babies were both toddlers. I’m not sure what changed, whether it was exhaustion or what, but I stopped finishing books. I’d start this one or that one, recommended by a friend, and lose interest. I was also a part of a great book club for a few years. They chose smart books and had smart discussions. I miss that group. They made me read books.
When I got a Kindle, it was the newest way to read, so it was fun again. Briefly. I figured out I’m not an eReader kind of person. I like the pages of a book. I like the smell of a book.
My kids weren’t immediately into books. We read to them every day for years. They loved that. The Boy read reference books from the second he learned to sound out words. Much of his early knowledge or the planets, world capitals, and human anatomy came from those books.
He was probably four years old when he asked me about ovaries making eggs. He had the child’s encyclopedia open to the detailed sketch of the human body. “Mama,” he said, “so the sperm comes from the testes and a sperm and an egg make a baby?” Yep. He didn’t ask any more questions.
His love for reading clicked when, in second grade, he was ready for the first Harry Potter. He read non-stop. As I did as a child, he got caught reading well after lights-out. She was a harder case. She’d rather draw than read. We tried every series recommended by friends, until we realized she liked “old fashioned stories” as she calls them. Little House on the Prairie books sucked her in.
This summer, with the lure of screens, I’ve implemented mandatory reading time each day. We’re all doing it. The required 30 minutes has turned into “oh my goodness has it been an hour we need to get moving,” but that’s okay. She’s reading a tattered copy of Anne of Green Gables. He’s into Percy Jackson. I’m about halfway through What Alice Forgot. I can’t put it down. We’re each looking for our next book. What’s on your list this summer? What’s the best book you’ve ever read?