by Scott D. Parker
If you’re here at this blog, you are a reader. Primarily you like crime and mystery fiction since that’s the theme of our littler experiment. Someday in the past, however, either distant or recent, you started to read for fun.
Don’t get me wrong: we all have to learn to read. It’s part of our fundamental education. All throughout our primary education experience, we are assigned books to read, some of which are not good. Even the good ones have their spirits stripped away by over analyticals teachers. The experience can be so traumatic for some students that they never read for fun once they leave school. For everyone else, somewhere along the way, something clicked in our minds: Hey, this reading thing is fun.
Chances are, the thing that helped this reading realization click into place was a person. For students, it might have been a teacher who slips an eager young person a favorite book “off the official school reading list.” For adults who stopped reading when they graduated from high school, it might have been a co-worker who always carried a book and shared the joys of reading. Still others might be intrigued by the Harry Potter or Twilight phenomena and decided to try it out. For me, and, likely, many of you, our reading realization started at home.
My parents are readers. Always have been. Mom reads mysteries; not the violent, gory ones like Thomas Harris or noir gems of James M. Cain but the traditional stories of Agatha Christie, Nevada Barr, and Sue Grafton. Dad reads two main genres: westerns and science fiction. Every night, they wind down with books. If Mom picked me up from school, she’d have a paperback with her. On camping trips, Dad would make sure to bring along a couple of books. As I grew up, we’d always visit bookstores. The fun part of those days was when I saw one of them with a book in their hands. If they found a book, I’d get one, too.
You know what the best part of the education was? Their example. They didn’t harangue me to read, Read, READ in order to pass an exam in school. There wasn’t homework every night that required me to read and answer questions on worksheets. There weren’t standardized tests that forced reading to be quantifiable. We even got to read some books (To Kill a Mockingbird; The Hound of the Baskervilles) that were honest to goodness enjoyable.
As of today, I’m the father of an eight-year-old (where did THAT time go?) and I’m doing my best to show him that reading is fun. My wife is, too. We read a lot to him and he’s starting to read by himself. He also writes and illustrates his own books. He’s done about a dozen or more, way more than me. Hmm, maybe he learned the lesson too well.
How did you become a reader and what do you do to spread the joy of reading?