Monday, February 26, 2007

Where did my love of reading come from?

A fantastic town - must go back! October 2006

I was reading a post on another blog today about reading in schools and where does your love of reading and writing come from and, more importantly, how easily it can be killed off as you go through the schooling system. This discussion resonated with me as I had a very relaxed weekend reading new books and dipping into old favourites.

My family are avid readers and always have been. My grandmothers both read a lot and I can remember going into my great grandmother's room with her breakfast tray (it was a treat to be allowed to carry it) and she had to clear a space for it amongst her knitting and books. Reading books under the bedclothes with a torch after the light had been turned off because you simply HAD to know what was going to happen next.

The agonies of trying to limit the number of books to borrow from the library down to a mere 3 or 4. And then running out of new reading material before you get back to the library. My parents have always read extensively. My father usually has more than 1 book on the go. (I've inherited that tendency as well - I think I have 3 on the go at the moment.) We always got a book in our stocking on Christmas morning and that kept us quiet for most of the day.

Now that I have nephews and a niece its great to see that our family tradition of being avid readers is continuing. They all love books. There is always book reading before bed. The fastest way to quieten them down is to offer to read a book and even if one of them is uninterested at the time of the offer, they usually sneak over before the book is finished. When my father was visiting my brother when he had a leg injury one day, he ended up with a hoarse voice. He was stuck on the sofa with his leg up and the youngest boy kept backing in with different books to be read, virtually all day I believe.

I'm a fast reader which I considered to be an asset at school. When we had to read a book, I could read it really quickly to find out what happened and then reread it more slowly to pick up all the nuances. I know that this frustrated some of my friends that weren't great readers as they often didn't make it all the way through. But when I read a book, I get absolutely lost in it and don't even hear people when they talk to me.

When I was about 20, I went and stayed with family friends in Australia and was in a state of shock when I discovered that they didn't even have a set of bookshelves. They were very out-doorsy people and were always doing things, rather than curling up with a book. Their daughter (a few years younger than myself) had to buy a dictionary for school and I had to show her how to use it! She had stayed with us the previous year and found our family frustrating. In the evenings we would all be sitting around reading and she would have nothing to do and would start bouncing off the walls.

So books and reading have always played an important part in my life. I can't imagine never reading. I even take books with me when I go camping. Those books collect quite a bit of wildlife as sandflies tend to squished into the pages.

As for English teachers at school, I can't say that any of them particularly inspired me but I always enjoyed the subject. I think the best year was the last year when we studied war poetry and romantic poetry. I found it interesting to look at the poetry by type, rather than by author. The downside of English was having to read 'The Hobbit' in my first year at secondary school. I've since reread it and enjoy it now but having to read it chapter by chapter and discuss it as we went was like drawing teeth.

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