Passing Down the Reading Gene


One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading to me each night before I fell asleep.  My pile of “Little Golden Books” was a large one, and my mom must have read every one a hundred times in those early years.  I remember her soothing voice growing hoarse each night before I finally drifted off to sleep.  My mother set a good example for me, because she, herself, loved to read.  I can remember her in the kitchen, stirring a pot on the stove, with a book in one hand.  She loved to read about the Civil War era, as well as the books she bought from the “Book of the Month Club.”  

Once I was in school and learned to read, an entire new world opened for me with the school library.  How I loved searching the shelves for “just the right book.”  I loved biographies, devoured anything written by Louisa May Alcott, and read each and every book in the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  To this day, my personal library contains my original LITTLE WOMEN book, with its crackly cover and musty pages.

When my three children were born, I expected that they would inherit my love of books and reading, but I was sadly mistaken.  No matter how many tempting books I bought them, or how many times I snuggled them in my lap and read to them, none of them were interested in reading.  How could this possibly be???  How could a mother who loved books so deeply be unable to instill the joy of reading in her children.  However, through the years I learned that you cannot force your children to love something you love.  They make their own choices, and reading was not a choice my children made.  

Happily for me, though, my grandchildren seem to have been born with the reading gene.  From their earliest years, my older grandchildren enjoyed snuggling in my lap and reading.  At naptime, I always read three books to Emma before she would snuggle down on her pillow and go to sleep. Books have been an important part of their growing up years.  Now, my two little grandbabies are following in their cousins’ footsteps.  They each have their favorite books, and often fight over which book I will read to them.  The “Llama, Llama” books seem to appeal to both of them, and last night I ended up sending the ITSY BITSY SPIDER book home with them, because they both loved it so and did not want to leave without it.

Those of us who love to read find it difficult to understand how anyone can choose to not read, and I’m sure non-readers cannot fathom our deep love for books.  My children look at my library nook and the shelves throughout the house which are filled, and shake their heads.  They don’t understand why I need to be surrounded by books.  I look at my grandchildren and wonder if they, too, will always cherish the books they love to read as much as I do.

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