As an author and reader, books are obviously a big deal in my home. Clearly, I love to read. But I wasn’t always this way.
Do you ever remember being in class reading from the text-book together and the teacher would call on different students to read the next paragraph aloud? Yeah, I dreaded that. Even more, I dreaded when she would say, “Everyone read page forty-two,” and then she’d sit there and wait. Watching us. Of course, everyone finished but me. So when the discussion began over what everyone else had just read, I was still reading as quickly as I could trying to catch up and never did. Once they started talking, I couldn’t focus on what I was reading. So I would finish at home.
When I was young, I struggled with reading. I was slow and had poor concentration. I could read the same paragraph four times before I understood it, because I just couldn’t focus on it. I could actually read an entire page before I realized I had spaced out and couldn’t actually remember any of it. So I’d have to start over, trying to find the last place it was that I recalled.
You would probably think from hearing all this that I did badly in school, but that was not the case. I actually did very well. But I was never able to complete reading portions of exams throughout my education. And my reading scores single-handedly kept me from skipping a grade in middle school. I understood the words just fine. That wasn’t the problem. It was never about comprehension. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure it was about anything other than me being a slow reader, and the fact that being slow caused me stress. So I always associated reading with stress. As a result, I only read for school.
You heard that right. E.R. Arroyo, author, reader, and book reviewer… didn’t grow up loving books. I grew up loving movies. Still do. In fact, I used to aspire to be a screenwriter and have written several scripts. Somewhere in my early twenties, I began to read and have developed a love for it that eventually led me to shelving my scripts to write novels instead.
I did, however, recently recall one shining moment in my childhood with a book called Tarzan of the Apes. It was the first book I ever loved. I never struggled with imagination, but that one in particular really inspired my young mind. To this day, I barely remember what happened in the book, yet I still have vivid pictures of it in my head. What an incredible mark it left all those years ago.
I’m a parent now, and I can tell you this: I don’t want my son to grow up without books. I want so much for him to love reading. I’ve read articles upon articles on child-rearing, development, education, and nurturing creativity, and one thing is certain—I want to raise a reader. Whether it’ll happen or not, I can’t guarantee. But my son likes when we read to him, and that’s a start.
When the baby was born, my friend gave us three books, and one of them has become my very favorite to read to Baby. I’ve read it to him nearly every day for last four months. The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton. I have it memorized by now, of course.
I should mention my son is only six months old, but I have big hopes for him.
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What were your childhood favorites? If you’re a parent, what do you read to your little ones?