I read a blog post the other day entitled “10 Expert Tips for Raising a Reader,” and while I’m nowhere near popping out little humans of my own, it got me thinking about my own experiences with reading as a child. And since I was going down memory lane, I figured I’d go ahead and invite you along. Because we all have to embrace our geekiness at some point.
I don’t really remember being read to as a little kid, but I do know the story my mom tells about how my complete Virgo-ness appeared at an early age. My mom was usually in charge of reading my bedtime stories, which were all Disney-related (because, of course). One night, for whatever reason, she couldn’t read me my precious story, so she sent my dad in there instead. And ever the impatient man, he decided that I was little, I wouldn’t know if he skipped a few pages every once in awhile to get to the end quicker. But, while I might not have been able to read, I did know the order of the illustrations and I could recognize when something just wasn’t right. So I called him out on it, made him start over again and scarred him for life.
One of the stories I do remember specifically reading was the story of Stellaluna, the little bat that could. Man, I loved that book. I couldn’t tell you the storyline without looking at a synopsis of the story first, but I can tell you that the illustrations were beautiful and Stellaluna was just the cutest little bat in the night’s sky. Which tells me that I made my mom read me that story A LOT if I remember the illustrations that vividly. And that mom was a trooper. She had to read stories to both me and my sister separately because I’m a brat who couldn’t/can’t share. So she did. And on more than one occasion she fell asleep mid-word. And I’d have to wake her up to keep going because, like I said, I was a brat. I could pretend like I’ve changed since my bratty days and I wouldn’t still do the same thing, but I’m fairly certain that would not be the truth. Win some, lose some.
I remember the Christmas my grandmother gave me an inscribed copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I think it just said “I’ve heard great things about this book, so wanted you to check it out. Merry Christmas! Love, Grandma and Grandpa,” but I can’t be 100 percent positive of that. What I do know is that it started a 1) obsession with the world of HP and 2) a tradition of inscribed books at Christmas time (which you know I loved). They were generally books that she liked or ones that her friends had recommended to her for a kid my age, but those books became some of my favorite gifts because books are so personal and she took the time to share a little of herself with me through them. And that’s a pretty cool thing for a 10 year old.
Probably the most vivid of my “childhood reading” memories is finishing the final book of the Harry Potter series. The book came out the summer after I graduated high school and before I started college, which I thought was so poetic because Harry and I would be moving on at the same time. I remember getting near the end and saying, chapter after chapter, that I was going put the book down and finish in the morning. Of course that didn’t happen. Instead, I stayed up until 7 o’clock in the morning to finish it. It was just one of those moments where you had been with these characters for almost 10 years and it was all coming to an end. It was emotional and stressful and exhausting, but exhilarating and exciting. Everything book reading is supposed to be. And the perfect final stamp for a childhood full of the love of books.