I was always the kid with her nose in a book.
Quite precocious, my love of reading started when I was four. Sitting on my grandpa’s lap, I would sound out the words in the advertisements as he read the newspaper. It wasn’t long before I started getting caught up in the mischievous world of the Cat in the Hat and the mixed up notions of Amelia Bedelia.
I was also the kid who daydreamed. A fantasy world filled with all my imagination could hold was way more interesting than the work my teacher handed out in first grade. She must have thought I was a bit delayed with reading and writing because my head was always in the clouds. The half filled out ditto sheets sprawled across my desk didn’t portray the real me.
My desk was positioned right next to the class bulletin board. I loved to read the articles my teacher pinned up rather than pay attention to my classwork. Thinking back, I must have just looked like I was zoning out. Imagine my teacher’s surprise the day she heard me reading the Gypsy Moth article she had snipped from the New York Times Science Section under my breath. I thought I was in big trouble when she called me up to her desk. She grabbed her copy of the paper and had me read for her. That night I went home with a note for my mother, the article, and instructions to write what I had learned. Turns out, I was simply beyond the first grade reading materials being offered.
Luckily, I grew up with the Queensborough Hill Public Library right on my corner. Before I was old enough to go on my own, walking to the library with my grandfather was a daily occurrence. I read the books faster than they could get them in. When I was older, I would spend my entire day there. All summer long, I was the kid carrying a big stack of books up and down the block each day.
I had a handful of playmates, but the majority of my friends lived within the pages of a book. I hated my short hair, but if Ramona Quimby could rock a pixie cut, then so could I. Reading helped me when I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about the struggles I faced. When those mean girls taunted “Blubber” I understood how she felt, but I could also identify with the bystanders, and surprisingly, even the bully.
I loved to get lost in a book and pretend to be someone else for a few hours. Rushing home from school, I knew Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and the rest of the Babysitter’s Club were waiting for me. Jessica and Elizabeth and their friends at Sweet Valley High welcomed me with open arms when I felt like an outsider.
My children share my love for reading and I have raised a few bibliophiles. My oldest spent her days consumed with wizards and muggles alike as she learned the ins and outs of Hogwarts. Soon, she will be traveling to Ireland to study the works of James Joyce. My other daughters explored the kingdom of Genovia through the eyes of Mia Thermompolis in the Princess Diaries series. Myths and legends came to life in the world of Percy Jackson. Even my reluctant readers were drawn in by the misadventures of our favorite “Wimpy Kid,” Greg Heffley.
Reading is our favorite nightly ritual. My husband and I even read aloud with our tweens and teens. I believe that you are never too old to enjoy being read to. It is amazing to watch the excitement fill their eyes as we explore new and mysterious worlds through books.