Jun 11, 2009

Reading Habits

6/11/2009 — cori
Even though this was in our old house, it's very representative of the love affair all in this family share of books - both old and new. Not only do we go to the library at least once a week, we also have a habit of raiding the local Half-Price Bookstore and stocking up on the most random stack of books at dirt cheap prices. I guess in a way you could call us "book rescuers". It is our philosophy that every book needs a good home and every home needs a good book (or 10 or 327).

I guess all this started back when I became pregnant with Gavin. A good friend, who was a teacher, gave me one of the best books you could ever give a new parent. It was titled, "The Read Aloud Handbook", by Jim Trelease. From the moment Gavin was born we were reading to him. Little did we know then that reading would be his favorite past time. When he was only weeks old he would study those little black, white and red board books like he was going to have a test on them at the end of the week. I even remember reading Dr. Seuss books to him at 3 months old, specifically "Fox in Socks". I had never read this book before and was laughing hysterically through it as I was reading it and watching Gavin's confused expressions.

The children will always drop whatever it is they're doing if I come in the room and ask if they'd like me to read aloud to them. Even as they age and are all able to read on their own, they always still love it when I chose to read to them. I actually love to sit and listen to someone read and allow my mind to wander and just enjoy the sweetness of the person's voice wash over me as I day dream. So it is with them. It is a time of bonding for us.

Tonight before bed, Bennett asks if he can read to me. An unusual request since the kids mostly want me to read to them before bed. But I absolutely love to hear them read to me and the cute little inflections in their voices. He chose a book typical of his favorite genre. Ever since the time he could walk up and down the library isles, he has chosen the exact same type of book, non-fiction, animal books. The kid has a passion for anything animal. He has read every book on cheetahs available at our library. He craves facts and repeats them every chance he gets. He is very sympathetic towards all animals. He even gets upset with me when I chase the squirrel off the bird-feeder; he thinks I'm being unfair to the squirrel. It's so sweet to see his passion for reading follow this road. And not surprising, he also LOVES "Hank the Cowdog". He knows good humor when he reads/hears it!

Chloe is a hoot. She taught herself to read at 4. Kindergarten readers were beneath her. She felt the need to start out with Berenstain Bears. But what cracks me up is how she actually tries to use different voices and inflections as she's reading. I don't think I understood or applied this concept until adulthood. She's especially good at the 'mommy voice'. She also adores all the Little Men books, Junie B. Jones and American Girl series. She has already read the entire isle of 'princess books' at the library but insists on reading them over and over and over. I guess repetition is how they learn and absorb so much at this age.

Gavin is my sci/fi, fantasy guy. Daddy started reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" to him at age 5 and he's been hooked on that genre ever since. He also LOVES books in a series. However, he also exhibits a little of my OCD by not being able to start a series of books unless he starts with book #1. He refuses to read books out of order. And once he's finished an entire series, he goes back and starts it all over. I've never known anyone to re-read a book again so fast. Personally, it would bore me, but he loves it. He loves all the Star Wars and Bionicle books as well as Hardy Boys mysteries and Box Car Children mysteries. I guess the sci/fi, fantasy type books are what fuel his imagination and help him not feel boxed in to the rules and limitations of this world.

Isn't it amazing how what type of books we favor reflect our personalities so perfectly?

I have learned sooooo, soooo much through reading. I have learned to be more understanding of other cultures, to be more open-minded and not so intolerant. I have learned so much about compassion, love, risk, adventure, death, fear and the human desire to survive and protect. I adore historical fiction. I love feeling like I'm back in whatever time of history that I'm into at the moment. It makes history come alive. I also love Holocaust stories. I know that seems a bit dark and morbid, but I've been fascinated by the stories of those who could live through such atrocities and live to tell about it ever since I was a teenager. I also love biographies - just another silly, female way to connect and relate with people.

Chuck used to hate reading - it was a chore. But he noticed how much I really enjoyed it and wanted to see if he was missing something. So he jumped back into the 'book reading world' and has never left. He became fascinated with books about other cultures and racisim and conflicts. He realized how much bigger the world was than our little, ego-centric view. He also enjoys a good war story and anything about the 1960's. We sometimes read each other's books, but not often. But we always enjoy sharing what we're learning with each other and talking about quotes in our books that meant alot to us. It's a fun way to connect and learn what's going on in someone else's brain.

I'm horrible about remembering good quotes from what I've read. I wish I had a quick wit like that. But, thankfully, there's Google who is there to do what my mind cannot. I wanted to end with a few good quotes on reading and books and these jumped out at me. Please feel free to share your own favorites. You know I'd love to learn more!

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread. ~Fran├žois Mauriac

If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions. ~Author Unknown

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Heinrich Mann

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