Friday, August 17, 2012

Raising a Reader

I am so happy that my seven-year-old absolutely loves to read. One of the many ways we bond is by reading a story together. When she was younger, I even read to her using different voices for the characters in the book. She found my doing this very enjoyable, if her giggles and rapt attention were any indication. At seven, she reads with impeccable pronunciation and wonderful intonation.

She reminds me so much of me when I was her age. I grew up with my mom reading to me. She read me Dr. Seuss books and stories of Babar the Elephant.

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My dad told me stories, too. He didn't use books. We used our imagination. My favorite memories of us were those times we told stories on the hammock we'd put up in the summer. We told stories after lunch with the late afternoon sunlight seeping through the bougainvillea flowers that canopied our white porch. My dad told me so many stories from popular fairy tales to fables. By the time I was seven, we had exhausted them, so we moved on to mythology. I learned about Helen of Troy and Achilles before I turned nine.

My mom never said no to me when I asked her to buy me a book. During my elementary years, she bought me my Sweet Valley Twins books. 

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I really followed the storied adventures and escapades of the Wakefield twins until they became seventh graders. The Unicorn Club series chronicled that. I collected those books, as well.

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I read The Unicorn Club in high school during my freshman and sophomore years. I then began to read the works of Isabel Allende, Antoine de Saint Exupery, Anne Rice, Lucy Maud Montgomery, John Grisham, Mitch Albom, JRR Tolkien, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roald Dahl, Louisa May Alcott, Anne Frank, CS Lewis, William Shakespeare, James Fenimore Cooper, Amy Tan, Pearl S. Buck, Charles Dickens and Paulo Coelho. 

In college, I read JK Rowling - Harry Potter had just come out, Dan Brown, Arthur Golden, Neil Gaiman, Miguel de Cervantes, Helen Fielding, Franz Kafka, John Steinbeck, Janet Fitch, Mario Puzo, Ethan Hawke, Lewis Carroll, John Updike, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Douglas Adams, Nick Joaquin, Nicholas Sparks (don't judge! I was eighteen), Emily Bronte, Thomas Harris, Jeffrey Eugenides, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen and JD Salinger.

As an adult, I read anything I can get my hands on - from Elizabeth Gilbert to Chuck Palahniuk, from Haruki Murakami to Edith Wharton, from Emily Giffin to Lauren Conrad, from Nicole Richie to George RR Martin, from John Green to Banana Yoshimoto, and from Lauren Weisberger to Candace Bushnell. I also collect coffee table books on fashion and design.

I take my daughter on these book-buying trips. She enjoys going to the book store as much as I do, maybe even more. She makes a beeline to the kids section, browses the shelves, picks up a copy of something that catches her eye and plops down on the carpet. I find her a couple of minutes later, already immersed and lost in the magical world of words.

I am also very happy that her school encourages them to read, and the encouragement is not half-baked and superficial. They have DEARS time - Drop Everything And Read then Share. They have regular story-telling sessions and have blocked time to visit the Reading Room, which is the library for the first to third graders. They even have library cards. My daughter has borrowed several books already. We read them together before bedtime after dinner, bath time and homework.

I hope her love for reading continues to grow. I'm so happy I have someone to grow our family library with!

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