Although my mother wasn't much of a reader, she honored my lifelong passion for the printed word, and took great pride in the early manifestations of my bookishness. Books were never denied me, and whether obtained from the library or local department store, they were the things I most coveted throughout my childhood (along with fashion outfits for my Barbie doll). I give my parents a lot of credit for indulging my book addiction, since an obsession for reading was probably rather foreign to them. My son would likely have a different story to tell about me, and the way books figured in his life. I suspect he would relate to Eudora Welty's description of her mother, which I happened across yesterday while re-reading One Writer's Beginnings...
I think of her as reading so much of the time while doing something else. In my mind's eye, The Origin of Species is lying on the shelf in the pantry under a light dusting of flour - my mother was bread maker, she'd pick it up, sit by the kitchen window and find her place, with one eye on the oven. I remember her picking up The Man in Lower Ten while my hair got dry enough to unroll from a load of kid curlers trying to make me like my idol Mary Pickford. A generation later, when my brother Walter was in the Navy and his two little girls often spent the day at our house, I remember Mother reading the new issue of Time magazine while taking the part of the Wolf in a game of "Little Red Riding Hood" with the children. She'd just look up at the right time, long enough to answer - in character-"The better to eat you with my dear," and go back to her place in the war news.
Reading is infectious, but there are lots of ways to raise a reader - just because you aren't necessarily one yourself doesn't mean your children won't be. I'm thankful my parents and grandparents recognized and nourished my love of stories, for it is one relationship that has stood the test of time.
All this by way of introduction to my essay, Raising a Reader, which appears in this week's issue of BiblioBuffet. Go read it - and the rest of this fine e-zine, which focuses on the living the literary life. It's one of my favorite bookish reads each week.
And ~ keep reading.
cross posted at Bookstack