How I Started Reading For Fun

I’m flying back to the East Coast today and am currently on my 4-hour layover in Tokyo. Yay, free WiFi! So I thought I’d blog. My love for reading can basically be tracked to two events:

1) In second grade, I spied my rival reading this little square book. I had to read it. Bonus: it had a dog on the cover. I was sold. The Call of the Wild was the first book I remember reading that I could not put down. At the time, I was also a slow reader, so it took me two days to finish it. We had these little desks with open cubbyhole space facing us, so I tucked that little book in there and read surreptitiously. Took it home and read it instead of doing homework. Then I read it at night under the covers with a flashlight because my parents had a hardline 8:30 PM bedtime. This was pretty much the start of my reading habit, which basically consisted of a non-stop consumption of books, I think I was hitting at 2-3 middle grade/young adult books per day, limited attention span to anything going on when I had to bookmark a story to, you know, eat and stuff, total shutdown of sensory awareness to my surroundings, a lot of yelling from my parents because I didn’t do my homework, and career pilfering of AA batteries from around the house for my flashlight. (At the height of this insane period, I remember substituting my grandmother’s gameboy batteries for my dead ones.) It was madness. It was glorious.

Anyway, the frantic pace has slowed down, but the feeling is still there. One of the best feelings ever!

Notes: 1. Moby Books published a series of abridged classics for kids under their Illustrated Classic Editions line. And I’m not the only one who remembers Moby Books as being a big part of childhood. 2. And I don’t remember anything about that rivalry, other than it was likely ridiculous but hey, in a way it can be credited with jump-starting my reading habit.

2) One afternoon, my godparents’ kids (godsiblings?) dropped off a ton of books they had outgrown. Including, like, a hundred Nancy Drew books. The classics, and also the Nancy Drew Case Files series. Also a few Hardy Boys thrown in. A bunch of Baby-Sitter’s Club books. I had scored the motherlode.

Two other random reading-related facts:

1) One of my favorite publications to read as a kid was the Scholastic book order forms. I read those things from cover to cover. I don’t think I ever bought anything via the book order forms though.

2) My elementary school library had this thing where they invited parents to buy books for the library, and they could place a little sticker inside the book dedicating it to their kid. My parents chose Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (probably because it had dogs on the cover), in yet another effort to deflect my dog-yearning, which was at an all-time high. This was a mistake on their part.

So I’m curious: Does anyone else remember exactly when/how their love of reading started?

2 thoughts on “How I Started Reading For Fun

  1. I remember Moby Books! I also find it unbelievable that you never ordered anything from a book order — in a world before Amazon, it was magical. Book orders were my favorite thing in the world when I was in elementary school.

    As for your question, I don’t think I can pinpoint it to a specific memory or date… my parents started reading to me as soon as I was born (probably in hopes I would grow up to be a kid genius and attend Harvard at the age of 14), and I remember having favorite books that I would read over and over again by the time I was in kindergarten. I remember loving the shit out of The Berenstain Bears and Mama’s New Job (pretty quilts!) and Tomie dePaola’sStrega Nona.

    Did you ever read Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher? The cover would have looked like this when we were kids — they’ve redone the cover multiple times since then, all of which are atrocious and not as good as the original. I LOVED that book. I feel like it’s a book that Little Lee and Little Jenn would have bonded over, had we known each other in elementary school.

  2. I remember just having nothing to do and stumbled upon the library. There was always something to do in the library. But even before that there were books at home I would read (or look at) over and over again. My first book without any pictures, I think, was Baby Sitter’s Club, in fourth grade. I remember thinking I can’t possibly read this, it is too difficult. But then it turned out to be easy and fun, so I started reading the Ramona books.

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