I read too much. I also watch entirely too much TV, but that’s a topic for another post sometime.
I blame my parents, well, my dad, really, for this particular “bad habit” which, of course, I say with a wry grin. My dad reads all the time. When he worked full-time, he’d come home in the evening, watch the news for a bit, then, after dinner, sit with a book for a couple of hours before bedtime. Although partial to westerns and mysteries, he’d read just about anything—except fantasy—but anything else is fair game. My mom reads, too, but not nearly as often. She’s had jobs for years where she spends all day staring at a computer screen. The last thing she wants to do when she gets home is look at more small print. Her other reason for not reading very often is an obsessive tendency to start reading something and not stop until she’s finished, even if it means reading through the night and still having to go to work the next morning, bleary-eyed and grouchy.
Hmmm, I recall doing much the same several times during college.
So as I grew up around at least one parent who read profusely (and had shelves crammed with books), I do the same today. I read just about anything I get my hands on, and it’s a habit I’ve passed on to my kids.
My son started reading in first grade, about the time most kids develop that skill, but by the end of the school year, when most kids in his class were still reading level one and level two easy readers, he was into chapter books, Junie B. Jones and A to Z Mysteries, especially. He had a competition going with one of his friends as to who could read more chapter books that year. Outside of the chapter books he read non-fiction, mostly. When I asked him why, he said it was because non-fiction gave him ideas and details to make his own stories. By the time he reached the latter half of third grade, he’d begun to drift in his reading, no longer interested in chapter books because they were just too short, but still wanting to lose himself in worlds created by other people. He had no interest in The Hardy Boys, Tom Sawyer, or The Three Investigators, books that I read when I was his age. I had a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone which I’d picked up years ago yet hadn’t gotten around to reading.* He asked if he could read that.
He was hooked.
Between the end of third grade and Christmas break in fourth grade, he’d read the entire series and decided that any fiction book of less than two hundred pages long wasn’t worth his time.**
My daughter had decided by the time she was four that she wanted to read at big brother’s level, so she pushed herself and was reading on her own by the time she entered kindergarten. At Christmas that year, she’d received her first chapter book, and she’s continued reading those since.*** However, this year, she found that even though she’s reading chapter books, she’s not quite ready to test on them. A less-than-stellar grade brought her to tears with a vow she’d never read again.
She got over it and enjoys going to the library and the bookstore at least once a week to add to her growing book collection. Both kids do, and we have book shelves crammed to overflowing with books, books stacked on tables, books stacked on the floor . . . .
You know, too many books.
**He still reads his sister’s chapter books on occasion.
***And she has pretty good recall on everything she reads (or hears or sees). She misses details at times but has a solid grasp on the gist of whatever she observes. She found with testing that details matter, so she has since slowed down in her reading to pay closer attention to those.