Books and My Childhood

Posted May 25, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 29 Comments

I learned to read when I was four. Thanks to my mother, who spent hours and hours teaching me. I spent most of my childhood, sitting in my room with my golden books, Speak and Spell, and studying for spelling bees. I won almost every single one that I entered. They were always proud moments, and my mom and I worked hard so I would be successful. I still remember the year that I was eliminated because I spelled the word “course” wrong. I spelled it “coarse,” which is a word, but not the spelling they were looking for. Because I did not ask them to use it in a sentence, I was eliminated. And I was angry the entire day. To be honest, I’m still kind of angry. Ha.

From a very young age, I have had a very important relationship with books. I worry about the kids growing up today. I don’t think a lot of parents are as devoted to their kids learning and growing process as mine were. I take great pleasure in seeing parents raise their kids with a love of reading and respect for books.  Many of these parents are friends of mine. I love seeing pictures of their kids with books, even if I don’t really like kids. Because someday they won’t be kids anymore and will be running the world. And words are so important.

When I was a kid, I had my own personal library. Bookshelves full of books. Ramona and Beezus, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, James and the Giant Peach, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Nancy Drew, etc. Boxes of books which are still stuffed in my parents’ attic in Michigan.

Then when I was a teen it was R.L Stine, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Christopher Pike, Lois Lowry, Caroline B. Cooney, Judy Blume, etc. See picture below. There are many more where that came from. That’s only the beginning.

I’m not sure I have a point by writing this blog post, but I guess if there was one thing I could say, it would be this: reading is important. It expands your vocabulary, makes you smarter, and I believe, an all-around better person. If you don’t read with your kid or supply them with books, please start. I don’t know where I would be today if it weren’t for my books and my love of reading. I’d definitely be a lot emptier and a lot unhappier. I think I would have less personality, because a lot of the things I learned, I learned from books. I KNOW I would be less intelligent. Take your kid to the library. Sit down with them and read a book. The end.
What’s your relationship with books? Do you have any fun bookish stories to tell? I would love to hear them. Leave me a comment if you would like to share.
Thanks, MOM and DAD.

29 responses to “Books and My Childhood

  1. Reading was one of the best things about my childhood. I’ve read tons of historical fiction books which give you a whole other perspective on the world. Books are just invaluable for children (and everybody else of coarse ;P)

  2. Awe this is a great post Kara! And I have to agree, reading is so important. My parents encouraged me to read a lot when I was younger as well. Now for my children we read a bedtime story everynight and every Friday we go to the book store and mommy gets a book & they each get one too. I look forward to the day that I can have guest reviews on my blog from my brats.

  3. Books are entirely bound up with my life. My parents read to me when I was a baby. They never entirely stopped really. When my grandfather died while I was a baby, my mom took me up to Ohio for several months. I don’t remember that. What I do remember is the tape that my dad recorded of him reading some of my favorite picture books, so that I wouldn’t forget his voice. I really wish I knew where that was still, because I would still listen to it sometimes now.

    My parents mostly read me things I couldn’t read myself, a lot of Walter Farley, Marguerite Henry, and Jim Kjelgaard. I loved animals, can you tell? I think I learned to read looking along as they read to me, which is why, apparently, some of the first words I learned to read were horse terms. I’m sure I was also trained to read, but I don’t remember that. As I learned to read myself, they listened to me read instead of me reading to them. I credit my awesome narration skills to this.

    I highly recommend that parents read with their kids. Those are definitely among my favorite childhood memories. And it obviously made a reader out of me.

    • Wow. What a great story. Thank you for sharing that. Reading is such an emotional experience for some of us, huh? I am always fascinated by what our brains choose to remember of our childhood. I’m happy to share a book obsession with you, Christina.

    • Mostly it’s what my brain DOESN’T choose to remember. My parents are always like ‘remember when we did this thing?’ and I’m like ‘no.’ Sometimes ‘this thing’ is from like a month ago. My memory is made of fail. But look how this stuck.

      I hate when people call books a solitary thing. It’s an independent activity, but it can also be social.

      One of my favorite things is reading out loud. My mom and I used to read the comics in the newspaper and do voices. The family also sometimes read Shakespeare plays. My friend and I did that recently, too, while intoxicated of course. That was AWESOME.

    • I have a pretty awesome short term memory. It’s my long term memory that stinks. So I remember a LOT of things from my childhood. But everyone is different so I understand.

      Reading books can totally be a social activity. Like my husband and I both read The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings and then discussed it. Fantastic book by the way. I read book one of Harry Potter out loud to him too. We decided not to continue because he cant read kids books. But it was fun anyway!

      Acting out Shakespeare intoxicated sounds like a blast!

  4. I have spent countless hours on Ebay trying to rebuild my R.L. Stine Fearstreet collection from my own childhood to pass on to my middle school readers. Some books never stop being appealing to the younger readers. =)

    • I have an entire box of those. I would love to get with you and see if I have any you may want and send them your way. I don’t plan on having any kids and there is nothing I would like more than to see them in the hands of new readers. Let me know.

  5. Na

    I grew up around books. Everything from Archie comics, Nancy Drew, R.L. Stine, Sweet Valley, Babysitter’s Club…and encyclopedias! It makes me nostalgic seeing your pictures. I have the original The Secret Circle books as well (but not The Captive) and it was one of my first paranormal reads. It’s such a great series – I haven’t read the newest addition to the series but I hope it still holds true to what I liked about it. The good thing about books is that there is pretty much everything for everyone 🙂 Seriously!

    • I’m glad my picture made you nostalgic. I had to go digging for those. I know what you mean by Encyclopedias. I didn’t have any but when I was at the library, I was always drawn to them. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  6. My mom used to read to us every night. I lucked out as the youngest of three siblings (by about six years), so my mom usually read books that were recommended for my older siblings. I always felt like I was being a “bad girl” when my mom read me books like The Giver and The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was in elementary school. Now that I work in a library (heh) I appreciate all of the time she spent finding us awesome books that we all wanted to read together, and find myself recommending awesome and clever books to young kids who gobble them up today. It’s always so great when the kids come back to me and tell me that they loved the recommendation and want more!

    • Your mom sounds like she was awesome. Reading really helps shape who you are once you grow up. And now you work in a library. See what I mean? That is the effect of how you were raised. At least I think so. Such a great story. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hey Kara! Love your post. <3
    I also learned to read when I four. My father taught me. Dr. Seuss. 😉 And from there, I started my collection and addiction for everything from R.L. Stine to Nancy Drew to The Babysitter’s Club and so on. I became very advanced at a young age, and was put into classes by the time I was in 3rd grade. I started reading adult titles by the time I was ten–Stephen King, Anne Rice, and the classics (Shakespeare!) in particular. I didn’t really read a lot of YA after that point, except for Harry Potter, until I was an adult. Haha.
    Reading became my escape through some very rough times in my life. It’s extremely special to me. I still almost shed tears at the thought of where I might be if it hadn’t been for reading. If that makes any sense.
    Now with my step-kids, unfortunately one of them, he hates to read. It makes me really sad. And I’ve tried and tried encouraging him. I used to read to him when he was younger, but he’s an older teen now (going on 16) so I can’t force it on him anymore. Luckily, my girls (14 and 10) do love reading, and I share books sometimes with my teen girl even since we have similar tastes. I turned her into a total Hunger Games fan. 😉
    This was a great post and I enjoyed reading your own experience. The picture is great too. Brings back memories! 🙂


    • I completely understand. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without books and reading. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s sad your stepson hates to read, but one can always hope that someday that will change.

  8. Loved this. The books we read as children and middle schoolers are so important. When I first joined Goodreads, I was surprised how many of my “favorite” books are the ones I read when I was younger and how quick I am to give them 4 and 5 stars. This really makes me wonder how many books that I’m reading NOW will resonate with me 15-20 years from now. Maybe we should have a decade-long lock on ratings:) Of course, most things we read are pretty forgettable. (sadly)

    • I SO know where you are coming from this. I want to rate every book I read as a kid 4 or 5 stars. And if I read them again today, I might not think that highly of them. That’s why I doubt I ever will because it will ruin the memory.

      I can’t wait to see what books I find most memorable 15-20 years from now.I’ll laugh if it’s a book I ended up ranting over in a review.

  9. This is so great! I take my kids reading lives pretty seriously. It is one of the things I enjoy most about homeschooling my kids actually. My son used to really not like to read. The books that he had been exposed to were forced on him a bit and he just started to see reading as a chore. When we first started his literature program for the year I wanted him to read The Giver because it was on the suggested reading list for his age. He hated it and I just realized that getting him to read and maybe enjoy reading is more important right now than WHAT he is reading. Best decision I ever made was to let him stop reading The Giver. I let him choose what to read instead. He chose Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He read the whole series and LOVED them! Once he started to embrace reading in general he started to expand what he reads. He read the first 2 book in The Hunger Games trilogy and is reading the third one now! I love that your parents were awesome enough to support you in your reading and spelling! My mom did the same for me and I hope that my kids grow up loving it as much as I do!

    • So glad to hear that you were able to turn your son’s bad reading experience into a positive one. Everyone is different and for most of us, required reading can really make something that is supposed to be enjoyable into a chore. I think it is far more important to actually have them reading what they like and learning from that. Your kids will be fine. You’re a great mom, Shannon, and you really invest the time like my parents did. That’s soo important.

  10. Psst. I have a secret…I hated reading books growing up! I know shocking coming from a person who has read 111 books so far this year. My poor parents really tried but alas I was stubborn and dug my heels in. I think I can count 10 books that I read from elementary to high school. I blame my book addiction now to my Hubby. He was just like you. His family didn’t have a TV growing up (I am not joking) so books were it. Thanks to him recommending some good books and reading together I found the joy of reading. This is why I love GR’s b/c I never had anyone to go to and ask, ‘What is a good book to read?’ Maybe if I was pointed in the right direction it would have made a difference.

    Now I read to my Children all the time. We are working our way through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.Plus they see me reading all the time and love to grab my books and pretend to read along. lol

    Great Post! It was fun reading about your childhood. :o)

    • I’m so glad your husband got you into books! And Goodreads is totally great! I couldn’t live without it. I would never have found some of the books I have read without that site. It is an invaluable tool for those that use it properly. And it’s great that you are reading to your kids. That’s something they will probably remember fondly when they grow up. I know I do.

  11. Those books look so coool! There’s just something about old beat-up books that catches my attention. Unfortunately my parents never read to us. But I’m glad and proud to say that I’m still a book-lover regardless of not being read to as a child 🙂

    • Hey, that’s okay too! You found books on your own and I think that’s even more rare, to be honest. Those books hold a lot of sentimentality for me. I hope I can say the same about my current library 20 years from now.

  12. GREAT post, Kara. I’m actually working on a similar one for my Bookish Banter section. I, too, grew up in a household that valued reading and literacy. There’s a picture I need to find of me and my mom reading the Sunday morning funnies together when I was 4 or 5 🙂 That, along with the many bedtime stories my dad used to tell me, launched me into a lifetime love of reading and telling stories of my own.

    I am SO relieved that my niece and two nephews (11, 11, and 15) love to read. In fact, my 15-year-old nephew may be writing a review or two on BlookGirl and I know I will probably cry buckets the first time he sends me a review. Haha!

    I hope to instill a love of reading and words into my own (future) children. I can’t imagine _not_ having books in my life, and agree that I would be much worse off had I not become an avid reader and day-dreamer.

    • I would love to read your post when you get it up, Katie. I used to read the comics TOO when I was a kid. Every Sunday! My dad always saved them for me. It’s amazing how so many things you did as a kid translate into your adulthood in some way.

      I’m also glad to see that there are still SOME parents raising their kids with loving care and attention. Books bring families closer together. They just do. My life would be completely different without books and not for the better.

  13. Amy

    What a fantastic post!! I loved reading as a kid too. I read to my daughter all the time, and she loves books!! I want her to love books. She always asks to go to B&N to go look at books, and when she gets special prizes for things she asks for new books.

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