I've read two posts and several articles lately (see here, here, and here) about the dearth of readers, a thing too awful to be imagined really. I love reading, I'm forever outgrowing my bookcases, and books are strewn haphazardly and in little neat piles all over my house. My friend Catherine talks about imagining her death as happening when her book collection topples over onto her in her apartment and buries her alive.
My love of books and reading started early. My mom is one of the most voracious readers I've ever known. She reads mysteries for sheer pleasure, but I know whenever I go home there will be a pile of library books next to her chair in the living room, and I know it will usually include books on cooking, decorating/remodeling, business, politics, history, or any of another half-dozen topics. The variety of her reading inspires me to break out of my fiction world and read biographies and memoirs and nonfiction titles.
Every time we moved to a new town, one of the first things we did was get our library cards. Going to the library was a weekly ritual for us growing up. Each week, we would get amused smiles from other library patrons (or annoyed looks from those behind us in line) as mom, me, and my two brothers each stood there with our library cards and our stacks of books for the week. The two little guys were active with a capital A, but they would sit quietly for an hour or more, snuggled under an arm, while we read to them. Ah, the magic of books!
And really, I think, why don't more parents figure out this secret to sane parenting? Who wouldn't want to spend an hour snuggled up with a warm, quiet toddler, reading about mice who drive cars or lions who get scammed by rabbits or elephant kings who speak French? As inspiration, here's a picture of my mom reading one of my favorite books to me.