For the Love of Reading

One of the most enjoyable things I’ve done as a parent is read to my kids.  I don’t really remember my mom reading to me, but I think she must have.  I remember having a lot of Dr. Seuss books which she had mail ordered, but they were so simple I remember reading them to myself.  We also had a set of World Book encyclopedias along with the wonderful Childrcraft Cyclo-teacher.  Did anyone else grow up with that?  Here is a link to an image of one:   That’ll bring back some memories!   It was a lot of fun to use.

My mother had a college degree which wasn’t common for a farm girl so I know she knew the importance of reading to your kids and I remember all sorts of fairytales and fables she used to tell us.  Even so, I was not a voracious reader as a child.  I read the first book in the Little House on the Prairie books, but didn’t get around to reading all of them until I had my own daughter and read them all to her.  Another favorite from my childhood was Miss Osborne the Mop by Wilson Gage, but my very favorite was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.  (I’m googling the correct titles and authors because there’s no way I can dig it all out of my memory!)  As a teen I remember reading Gad’s Hall and The Haunting of Gad’s Hall by Norah Lofts.  I actually still have that combined novel on my shelves.  I read The Far Pavillions and Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye.  It took me a couple of high school summers to read through Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, but I persevered.  I also read Hawaii by James Michener while in high school.  Other than those, I don’t remember reading much.  Wait, wait, I remember reading Watership Down by Richard Adams when I was around twelve and a few years later having to read Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes for an English class.

As a young adult I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and A Separate Peace by John Knowles.  I know I had to read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens while in the ninth grade, but I remember having such difficulty reading it and not retaining anything.  I reread it in my thirties along with Great Expectations and David Copperfield.  I read Travels with Charley and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The House of Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in my forties as well as You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe.  Also by Wolfe, I read Of Time and The River because it was on my mother’s book shelf when she passed away.  I read Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms and A Moveable Feast.  I enjoyed reading Diana Gabaldon and Sue Grafton books when I was immobile nursing twins in the lazyboy.

I think I enjoyed reading to my kids because it gave me an excuse to read all these great books I hadn’t read before.  Let’s see, there was the whole Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights (I do not know which version we read, but I do know that one of my sons has our copy,) The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum and several others in the Oz series (I hadn’t known there were more than one Oz tale).  We had a ton of books for younger children and my all time favorites are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  I read several Sword of Shannara books by Terry Brooks aloud and I really enjoyed rereading the Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy.  Reading Tolkien aloud was a lot different than reading him to myself in my teens.

As an adult, I’ve enjoyed reading all of the Jane Austen books and more of the Shannara books as well as another Terry Brooks’ series, Landover.  I’ll read whatever drifts in front of me, but I do go through spurts of reading several titles and then many months without lifting a book.  I just finished Found: A Daughter’s Journey Home by Tatum O’Neal.  I get a lot of books form my mother-in-law.  Now she is a voracious reader.  She probably reads at least three paperbacks a week.  Her daughter is always bringing her books and then she lets me pick through the ones she’s read.  My husband does remember her reading to him and his sister with her arms around them in bed.  He remembers her drifting off to sleep and the book slipping from her hands and falling to her chest.  I hope my kids remember me reading to them.  I know I didn’t read as much to my older sons as I did to my younger kids.

Here I am with a couple of my kiddos amid a scattering of children’s books on the bed.

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