My earliest memories are of my mother reading to me. To this day my most favorite books ever are The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Petunia the Silly Goose by Roger Duvoisin. Books were always around. My mom was never far from a paperback. If she wasn’t reading it, she was putting it back in her purse with a look of longing. On the first Friday of the month Mom would come home from work with a paper grocery bag filled with books, that was lunchtime book club day. My dad would groan and make his favorite joke that his wife was about to go MIA again. It was my favorite day of the month. Not only because it proved there were lots of people just like me who loved books,they all got a bag of books to take home, but also because there were twenty new books for me to read as soon as Mom got done. She would read them all first and put the “Grown up” books off to the side (In Jr. high I rebelled enough to sneak those books, those were the days!) leaving the rest for me to devour. Books remain my strongest memory of my mother. Years later when strokes had stolen her ability to walk into a library and browse the stacks and diabetes had stolen her eyesight and the ability to read a printed page, I would fall asleep nightly to sound of her four track tape player reading to her everything from her bible to magazines and all the Harlequin Romance novels she could handle.
I met my best friend and soul mate in my early twenties. Our relationship was a foregone conclusion when he discovered my Debbie Gibson tape in the deck of my car when I gave him a ride home from work one night, but our relationship was built on day long quests to used book stores to find all the books of whichever sci fi fantasy series I was reading at the time. Tolkien, Herbert, Kurtz, Eddings, Brooks and Jordan were the heralds of young love. I found out a decade or so later that all the wonderful books my guy introduced me to were books he hadn’t actually gotten around to reading yet. He loves books as much as I do, he just can’t compete for quantity. All that questing was just for me. He was the first person I ever met who didn’t think it was odd that I had read the Hobbit in the third grade. My seventh grade language arts teacher didn’t buy it. In fact she didn’t buy that I had read most of what I had read by the tender age of 12 and actually made me get a letter from my mom, followed up by a phone call, when I turned in the list of all the books I had read the summer before. “No one reads that much!” She had the nerve to yell at me. Of course Mom, who had read at least as many books herself that summer, was happy to back me up. My guy thought that teacher was odd though, what kind of teacher complains when a student reads too much? Books became such a staple in our relationship that one year he made the rule that books could no longer be a Christmas gift. The Horror!! That rule didn’t last long. Actually, when he wants to make me smile, he finds me some beat up old book from our local Friends of the Library. Best pick me up ever! These days finding some quirky used book store tucked away in away in some obscure strip mall is better than finding gold. Ebooks are easier on the back, but nothing can replace the smell of aging paperbacks stacked in leaning piles against stacks upon stacks of packed shelves.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I fully expected that any children we would have would enjoy books and reading as much as we do. Our would-be kids had the Dr Seuss early readers before they were conceived. Things seemed to be going according to plan when on my son’s first trip to the library, at one week old, the children’s librarian offered to help us get him a library card. Reading Rainbow and Baby Einstein videos filled our house with happy noise as he grew to toddlerhood and The Sleep Book was an every night read. Give the boy a choice and he would choose a book over a toy every time. Monthly trips to a favorite restaurant were exciting to him because he could pick out another chapter of the Sesame Street library or Maybe a Charlie Brown Encyclopedia at the book store next door. He would be yelling “Books” as soon as we hit the familiar freeway exit. When he was little the two of us always had a book handy. Then came school and suddenly the books weren’t fun anymore. Reading and writing became a time for frustration and tears. For the next few years getting him to pick up a book was impossible and school work was a major chore. Teachers insisted that he just needed to put in the effort, maybe I should try finding books about things he found interesting. I found him WeGiveBooks.org, an online reading site that offers free books to disadvantaged readers for every book read on the site. Suddenly he was inspired. It wasn’t any easier for him to read, but the idea that he was making a difference kept him plugging away. A not-so-stuffy teacher, who cared more that a book had been read rather than written about allowed him to use a video recorder to make an oral book report, inspired him even more and the next chapter in my life was born.
Book reviews! The need to help someone else, online books and a video camera ( and a lot of help from Mom and Dad) got my little angel reading and read he did. He preferred non fiction, but brightly illustrated stories grabbed his attention and there was my eight year old telling the world, or at least his vlog fans, about the book he just read. Finally after a lot of begging, crying and whining (from the boy as well) we finally got a school to test him and wouldn’t you just know it, he is dyslexic and dysgraphic (I should not say “I told you so!” but I did tell them so). Can you imagine growing up in a house filled with books and being around people who read all the time and not being able to read? My heart breaks for him. At a new school some really patient OT therapists, a couple of really involved gen ed teachers and a super wonderful spec ed resource teacher got my amazing son is reading at grade level (for fun even!) and writing, while still chore, is not quite so onerous.
I knew we had won a major victory when we had to own three copies of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl. I had read it to him a couple of years ago and that was the book he wanted to read now. His terrific teacher found a copy for his classroom but he couldn’t take it home, so he had to have a copy of his own (1) and my copy was buried in storage somewhere (2), then he lost his copy and it had to be replaced because my copy was still lost in storage somewhere (3). Okay, so most parents would be screaming at shelling out hard earned cash to replace a book we already own, but my kid was reading, On Purpose reading. Besides, my reader copies wear out eventually, so it is not like they won’t get used someday. More importantly, Artemis Fowl had taught my kid that kids his age can accomplish big things. Maybe it was fate that while he was riding the high of reading a book he had wanted to read for years but thought he never would, that I ran across a website called Mother Daughter Book Reviews. We are always on the look out for blog ideas and here was a website asking for reviews on a book about a kid blogger not all that different from himself. He loved the idea and after making sure that boys were allowed to participate, he jumped into doing reviews for reals. My day job is to edit his blog and maintain his social media accounts (Which basically means I keep on the lookout for NSFK comments/ posts and read everything he posts. Something, that based on what I see every day, I wish I could do until he is at least 50. I spend a portion of my day editing what he writes and shoots then helping him promote it (thank God for apps like Buffer) and I am so impressed with the response and more so with the wealth of reading material out there that I would missed if my darling boy hadn’t led me to it. As he gets older he will take over more and more of his daily blog stuff and be more than just the “talent” and there goes my day job. So it is time to begin moving to the next chapter of my life. Now, I don’t think I can compete with his adorableness and blunt honesty, however I have lots of experience with reading and I know what I like and I would love to share it with those who maybe don’t have the time to consume mass quantities of written word.
So here I am. I have my own blog now and definitely plenty to write about and a delightful guaranteed guest blogger. If you like to read, drop me a line and let me know I am not alone. If you like to write, then drop me a line and let me read what you write! #AmReading
My first review will be a self published first book by an unknown kid author. Come back soon!