The person who shaped and heavily influenced how I think about books…

I was recently contacted by a newspaper that took an interest in Well Red and its inception and one of the questions I was asked was “who has been an influential mentor in your life as a reader?”. This is a question I love answering because of how proud I am of the person who introduced me to books and reading…my mother.

When my mother found out she was pregnant with me she started buying and collecting children’s books, so I’d have a mini-library when I arrived, so I guess it should come as no surprise that one of the first memories I have of my childhood is of my mother reading one of her many Danielle Steel novels.

I also remember wanting my mother’s attention and not always getting it, because she was so engrossed in the excess-laden Hollywood lifestyle of the rich and famous that Jackie and Joan Collins would so clearly depict in their books. It’s not that she neglected me, but she did not shower me with as much attention as I now know other kids got, because if she wasn’t marking her students’ papers or preparing the following day’s teaching material, she was reading.

I’ve never actually asked my mother if her reading as much as she did was a deliberate attempt to make me fall in love with books as well or if that was just a simple case of monkey see, monkey do.

I learned how to read very early in my childhood, I couldn’t have been older than 4 years old. When you have a bookworm for a mother, you quickly learn that you need to find ways to keep yourself entertained without being a nuisance, so books it was (I’ve never been much of a TV fan).

Watching my primary caregiver lose herself in 300 pages, roused a curiosity in me that would only be satisfied by doing the same. Some of my favorite books as a child included The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Smile for Aunty by Diane Paterson.

Between 7-10 years old came the Goosebumps novel series by R.L. Stine and then Sweet Valley High, another addictive series if you’re a teen! By the time I was 13, my mom and I were fighting over Ms. Steel or the Collins sisters! I’ve been pretty loyal when it comes to the type of books I read. Whenever I go book shopping, I always run to the fiction section first, everything else comes after my novels. I’ve only just started exploring other genres…biographies and essay collection style books. Those are okayish but nothing will ever compare to novels! Thanks, Mom.

My mother’s influence on my own reading behavior was also a huge part of why I started Well Red. I realized that if my mother could influence me to the extent that she did by doing nothing more than just enjoying reading herself, could we then not influence our own children, nieces and nephews to read as well? The fact of the matter is that our children imitate what they see us do more than what we’d like to admit. Should this then not make us strive to do better? Should we not be reading more, if not for our own pleasure, then for our children?

I’d love to hear from you: which teacher/librarian/parent/relative/friend had a profound effect on how you think about books? Do you believe our children learn reading habits from their primary caregivers? Does it matter if a parent does not read?