I just read a post at the blog Of Great Minds, concerning books and it brought back so many memories. I grew up the only girl, a middle child. My brothers were famous for making me the target of jokes and "child torture", as they tag teamed me whenever they got the chance.
I was an easy target. I was easily brought to tears by the slightest of words. This was the case at school as well. I was a dorky and clumsy girl, and it made me one of the least liked. But I had a savior.................
Books. And tons of them, to my small imagination. Our school library was like heaven to me, and I would sit in between the shelves during recess to avoid going out on the playground. I read stories about horses (my passion at the time), about girls like me, who wanted to be tough, and handled life's disappointments so much better than I did. I read about amazing people like Helen Keller, Benjamin Franklin, and Mother Theresa.
We also had a small town library, where I would be found any time I could get permission to walk to after school, as long as I was back to my aunt's for when my mother came to pick us up after her long days at work. My brothers and cousins made fun of me, because I always had my face in a book, but I didn't care. I was so mesmerized with the story.
During high school, we had to go to a much larger town for school, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven the first time I walked into the doors of that old library building in this much larger town. It was 4 times the size of our little library, and had sections for such things as biographies, research, and children's books. You would be hard pressed to ever run out of reading material, even if you lived well past 100. I was allowed to get a library card because I was a student at the high school, and I made up "projects" that had to be completed for school, just so I could stay after and walk to the library.
I usually had about an hour or so before my mother would pick me up on her way home from work. It was such pressure, to find what I wanted in those stacks, in such a limited time, but somehow I managed.
I have never lost that love of books, and more often than not, you will find me reading several at one time. I have half joked that when my children move out, I will turn one or two of their bedrooms into a personal library. I can never have enough bookcases in my home, and usually they are crammed into corners behind furniture.
I have done one thing right as a mother....I have passed on my love of reading. All of my children have their own passions as far as what they like to read, but they all read.
My 16 year old daughter is currently immersing herself in books like Eragon, Twilight, and anime. I think she would be better served reading something like Helen Keller, but it is her choice, and I will not infringe on it. Reading is like religion, it is a very personal choice. When she was young and I still homeschooled her, I filled her world with Little House On The Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and other great books.
My 13 year old son was a bit different due to early learning disabilities. I had to sort of bribe him. This is exactly what I told him....."You know, if you do this reading for me, it will make reading easier for you, and then you won't have to wait for me to have time to read the books you want to learn from, you will be able to read them yourself." This was enough to set the boy on fire. He is one who craves books on airplanes, architecture, and most recently boating. He is currently reading encyclopedias and library books on everything he can get his hands on about boating.
My youngest, my 11 year old son is the odd duck of the family. He likes to read well enough, but he doesn't like long books. He prefers short bursts of information or reading for pleasure. His favorites right now are National Geographic Kids Magazine, and funny books such as Diary of a Whimpy Kid. But that is ok. It doesn't have to be a book as large as War and Peace, as long as you love what you are reading.
One amazing way to expose children to books that are too difficult for them to read, is to use audio books. Audio books are also an amazing help for struggling readers. My stepdaughter had to read Tom Sawyer for me when she was homeschooling, and she struggled with the dialect of the characters in the story. I let her watch the movie so that she could get a feel for the time period, and the language, and then I took the audio book out of the library. She read along while listening, and suddenly, this impossible book became a window into a world she couldn't get enough of.
I have currently, in my quest of all things related to A Thomas Jefferson Education, have begun to read some classics. Some were required reading when I was in school, some not. I am currently re-reading A Tale of Two Cities. It amazes me, all the things that this story involves, that I either don't remember, or didn't learn when reading it as a teenager. This comes from being an adult, with different life experiences of a teenager, and being able to absorb the larger picture of all that happened in this book.
Whatever your reading style, or genre preferrence, I hope you and your children find a real passion for reading. Share your excitement with your children, make the books readily available, and they will develop their own passion for reading.