Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reading: Innate or Acquired?

As far back as I can recall -- far back into my early childhood -- from the moment I began to experience what printed words did to me -- I loved to read. One of my teachers in elementary school [Grade Two] even told my mother, in one of those parent-teacher interviews, that she did not believe I read the amount of books I claimed to read. I was devastated when my mother informed me of this -- because the truth is, I was reading even more than my teacher was aware of. And I still do it today -- approaching my [dare I say it] 50th birthday.

But WHY am I this way?
Why are YOU this way?
If you are frequenting this Bookpuddle blog you are probably an insatiable reader, too. 

Why do we do it?
I am thankful that neither of my parents discouraged my early reading habits, but neither can I look to them for inspiration. Neither of them were "readers" per se. Nor were any of my siblings.
I do recall how much I looked forward to my mother faithfully reading Bible stories to me when I was a child, at bedtime -- and if I were to extrapolate upon my thoughts at the time, I think I would have been saying to myself, "Wow! When I am able to do this on my own, I am going to go hog-wild over it!"
Something happens to me when I read, that does not happen when I watch movies.  And I have found that when people get to know me, they too, sometimes acquire a passion for reading that they never previously had. As though it is a bit infectious.
But the reason I myself acquired that same passion, so early on, remains a bit of a mystery to me.
And so tonight I ask the question of you. Was your own passion for reading something that you acquired later on in life? Or are you like me, and can not really recall a time when the picking up of a book never appealed to you?



Melwyk said...

Exactly like you, Cip. I don't even remember learning to read, I just could, from about age 3. Though my kindergarten teacher didn't believe I could read and mocked me in front of all the others for my imagination...

My family read but were not desperately gasping for a book at all times like I was. Think I got it mostly from my grandfather & my dad, both probably the biggest readers I knew (grandpa was also a teacher)

I also eagerly awaited my mom's bible stories each night; even when she was so tired and nearly asleep that squirrels started appearing in Galilee, she still read to us every night.

Yes, I agree there is something that happens when we read that doesn't happen any other way. That is what makes it a kind of addiction, I think.

Cipriano said...

Such a great response, Melwyk. There's nothing quite like the ol' Bible stories.
An innate reader, like me. An addict.

Eva said...

My parents read to me before I learned to read, but I'm glad they stuck to fairy tales instead of bible stories.

Reading came very easy to me. The first day of school I couldn't read, the next day I could. I took the learning-to-read book home and used that and my mum to learn - easiest thing I ever did.
After that I read everything I could find. Books, magazines, milk cartons, television texting), newspapers and so on. I also stopped wanting my parents to read to me, mostly because I didn't want to have to wait a day for the next installment and fairly soon also because I could read faster on my own.

My mum always read, but not voraciously like me. My sister is like my mum, and my brothers and dad don't read much more than they have to. My maternal grandmother was an avid reader, so it might be here that I have it from.

I still read, but not quite as much as before. That means that I'm now down to 60-80 books a year as opposed to probably around 200 when I was a kid.

What hasn't changed is my main reason to read things I'm not required to read: It's fun!

Stefanie said...

I've always been a reader and, like Melwyk, don't remember learning how to read, just remember always being able to do it. Neither of my parents were great readers but there were always books and they always read to me as did relatives and babysitters and they always encouraged me to read too. I have memories of reading to my sister, two years younger than me, and trying to teach her how to read. We both read lots as kids but I'm the one who became obsessive about it. As you say, there is something that happens for me with books that just doesn't happen with movies or TV or music.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember learning to read either, just following the words along on the stories my poor parents had to read over and over and over again until I knew if they missed a word or tried to skip text.
I am not really a voracious reader. But my kids definitely are. I remember reading to them at bedtime long after they could read themselves...and I also recall that they hid the chapter books from me because they did not want me sneaking a read-ahead after they had gone to sleep. They wanted us to discover the plot together.
I would have said that it is the interior monologue that reading allows the reader to have with himself that makes it so appealing. But, on second thought, to this day, I feel that there is nothing like reading WITH someone. Reading alone definitely has its merits, but sharing what I am reading is also a very special experience for me.

Cipriano said...

Awesome. It seems that all of MY readers are of the innate variety.
Thank you all for your great comments.

Isabella Kratynski said...

I'm innate too. My parents were not great readers, except if you count Time magazine, but I did get read fairy tales (in Polish). My sister's also a reader, but my brother is not so much (and they were older and out of the house when I was growing up). My daughter likes books well enough, but is not nearly as voracious as I was at her age. I wonder if she remembers learning to read -- will have to ask.

Cipriano said...

Interesting, Isabella.
Your comment makes me assume a conclusion that reading desire is a mixture of causation and arbitrariness. Hard to pin down exact reasons as to why the afflicted are afflicted.
But thank you for casting your vote with the rest of us Innate Ones.