Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday and time for the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Every week, Jennifer asks a question and hundreds of book bloggers link to their own post answering that question. It's a great way to connect with other bloggers who have similar (or divergent) interests.

This week's question is: When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life? 

I've been doing the Hop for months now and I mean it when I say that this is my absolute favorite question so far. The problem is that I'm not really sure how to answer it.

I learned to read when I was about two years old. It's early, yes, but it was all thanks to my mother, who read to me all the time, and my grandmother who encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on. There's one book in particular, Go Car Go, that Mom read to me over and over again (because I kept asking for it). Eventually I had the book memorized and, from what I'm told, was able to recognize the words in other books. 

Between then and kindergarten I learned enough words from enough books that I entered at a second grade reading level. It was nice because I got to skip out on the "see Jane run"  books, but it also sucked because my elementary school library was broken up into two sections: picture books and chapter books. You weren't allowed to check out chapter books until you were in second grade, which meant I spent more time at my town library than my school library. 

I think it was this distinction that really cemented for me, even at such a young age, that reading was my first true love and that books were kind of a big deal for me. I would sit with my kindergarten class in the picture book section of the library and while they'd be paying attention to the story being read to them by the librarian, I would be looking over at the chapter book section longingly. 

I almost think that in first grade my teacher finally convinced the librarian to let me get books out from there, but I don't fully remember. I do remember that shortly after I was able to do so, I read chapter books so fast it made my head spin. I also used to read all of the dinosaur books they had, including this old-ish yellow encyclopedia with red letting on the cover that was about two or three hundred pages of nothing but dinosaurs. I'm pretty sure I read it straight through two or three times before I went to middle school.

My grandmother had a huge collection of books and would always let me read pretty much whatever I wanted from it. There was never any censorship or control over what I read. Grandma might say, "Oh, I didn't like that book," but only on very rare occasions (maybe once or twice in my entire life) did she tell me straight out, "You really shouldn't read that." 

From her I learned the value of packed bookshelves and a voracious reading habit. She always had a book next to her, usually with an unused tissue stuck in it as her bookmark, just in case she wanted to read at any given moment during the day. She told me that when I was about four or five I told her that she must be rich because she had so many books. That, I think, is another moment in which my passion for reading was evident. 

There have been so many other moments like these, moments that have made me realize that reading isn't just a hobby for me. It's almost an addiction...just not in a creepy, sell-your-children kind of way. During college I wasn't able to read as much as I would have liked and I felt its absence. Having this blog the last few months, reading as much as I have in such a short amount of time, has reignited my addiction in a big way. 



  1. Wow, what a long great story! I think it's awesome to be able to read how everyone came into reading and where they think it came from. I wasn't surrounded by any readers haha. But my mom read to me nightly.

    My Hop is here:

  2. Great answer! I teach kindergarten and if my students can read chapter books I become their personal book supplier!
    (and I agree with you on The Monster at the End of This Book!)

    Somer @ A Bird's Eye Review

  3. Aww, I love that you told your grandma she must be rich because she had so many books! I hope people say that about me when I'm a little old lady :-)

    Happy Blog Hop!

  4. Wow! I don't really remember ever not reading, so I just assume that I've always done it! There's a video from my 3rd birthday where my nan is reading to me, and I'm focusing so much on the page it almost looks like I want to climb into the book! Addicted to reading? I hear that!

  5. When did I first realize I loved reading? I wish I could prove a pre-natal predilection towards books but my memories don’t stretch back quite that far.

    The earliest memories I can recall involved books. First having them read to me then reading them on my own the minute I had the ability.

    Books have been a major part of my life ever since. My passion for the written word knowing no bounds, I started writing books on top of reading them about ten years ago.

    Want to know what my favorite childhood book was? Hop on over to my blog and find out:

    Howard Sherman, Implementor

  6. The Book Angel: I truly believe that parents are one of the biggest influences when it comes to reader or not a child will be a reader. It's why I was so shocked when my neighbor told me she doesn't read to her son. I remember my mom not only read to me, she used to make up stories to tell at bedtime. I think that's one of the reasons why I ended up being both an avid reader AND writer.

    Somer: I tried to do an MA in education, but it just wasn't for me. I'll have to find some other way to spread bookish-ness far and wide. I'll be the uncle who always buys his nieces and nephews books for holidays when all they really want is video games and money. :)

    Sarah: I think I just had a strange idea of economics when I was a kid. LOL. Thanks for the follow! I followed back. :)

    Laura: That's so cute. Apparently I used to grab things off the shelves before I could read and pretend to read them. I'd have magazines and books in my playpen and I'd hold them up like I was reading them and babble. Some people really are born readers, I guess. LOL

  7. Hi, Gabriel!

    i'm a new follower!

    What a nice, detailed story about how your passion for books began! I love your long reply, especially with a question of this type! So I'm glad you decided to write more. This question deserves a "memoir-type" answer, I think. Yours certainly fits the bill!

    And I agree with Sarah -- that was a great thing you said to your grandma! I consider myself wealthy in books, although I'm financially not that well off.

    Maria @

  8. Thanks for the follow! I just followed back. :)

    Your story was detailed as well. It was interesting to read about how you found a love of books in more than one language. As someone who loves learning languages but is daunted by reading full novels in them, it's inspiring to see that even at a young age you managed to do what I'm only just getting up the courage to do.

  9. Hi, again!

    Thank you so much for commenting on my Blogger Hop post, and following back!! I greatly appreciate it!

    I'm so glad you enjoyed my story. And yes, it's interesting how we seemed to have similar experiences. I suppose the love of books usually manifests at a very early age. You either love them, or you're indifferent to them!

    I'm originally from Cuba, so that's why Spanish was my first language. However, I do remember learning some English in school there. Then we came to the States, and I never studied Spanish formally after that. Thamks to our mom, my sisters and I never lost the language. We'd ask her something in English, and she'd answer in Spanish. She herself is fluent in English, though.

    Mom wanted me to take a Spanish Lit class in high school, but for some crazy reason, I decided to study French! I took 4 years of it, and two semesters in college. I used to be fluent in it, but, since I have no one to practice with, I've regrettably lost most of it... I love languages, and wish I had the time and money to learn more!

    Thanks for complimenting my bookshelves!! I dearly love their contents!! : )

  10. I agree. My sister came to reading later in life (around middle school) and she still isn't as avid a reader as I am.

    I spent two years working on a Master's in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and I'm so happy that your mother never allowed you guys to lose your native language. It's so sad to see how many families believe that, in order for their children to get ahead in America, they have to abandon their first language when, in reality, a person's first language is immeasurably helpful in learning a second, third, or fifteenth language.

    I took French as well and spent about a decade (on and off) learning it but I'm still nowhere near where I'd like to be. My German is deplorable, so I don't feel too bad about my French. There are still so many languages I'd like to learn how to speak (Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Russian, Italian, Gaelic, etc., etc., etc.) but I know I'll never have the time, money, or energy to learn them all. I've also realized that French is probably the one language (other than Ancient Greek) that I'll ever be able to read fluently in. It makes me sad, but it also makes me excited to get into all of that French literature as well.

    I could go on for hours about books and languages and books in other languages so I think I'll quit while I'm ahead. :)

  11. Lovely story. It is interesting how many people have said that their mothers introduced them to reading, I've yet to see anyone say it was their father, lol!
    Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by.

  12. I inherited my dad's love of history and U2. Thankfully that seems to be about all I inherited. My dad wasn't really a model father. LOL

    I was raised by my mom and my grandparents so most of who I am today I owe to them.

    As for other people, I'm guessing that moms tend to be more of the tuck-kids-in-and-read-to-them types.

  13. Stopping by via the Book Blogger Hop. I'm a new follower.
    Have a great weekend!
    Holjo @ Pedantic Phooka

  14. Hi, again, Gabe!

    Oh, I'm glad you agree with what my mom did! Yes, one should never lose one's native language! It's part of one's heritage, after all. And you're absolutely right -- it does help in the attainment of other languages.

    I can't believe you have a Master's in TESOL! Another coincidence, since I am ESOL teacher myself! All of my students are Hispanics, and most come from Central America. I also get Cubans from time to time. Although I find teaching very rewarding, I do get very frustrated with the students, because they're absent a lot. This is unavoidable, though -- most of them have problems with their work schedules, being unemployed, family situations, etc.

    French literature is AWESOME! It's great that you're able to read it! I haven't tried reading anything in French for a very long time now...

    Books and languages are enthralling indeed! And speaking of them, have you ever read the works of J.R.R. Tolkien? He was a philologist at Oxford University, and went as far as to invent a language for some of his fantasy characters -- the elves of Middle Earth. Fascinating, eh?

    By the way, I've just discovered a book that promises to be an exciting read! It's titled "The Map of Time", by Felix J. Palma. The original title is "El Mapa del Tiempo", since the author is from Spain. I highly recommend it to you!

    Well, it's been nice "chatting" with you again! Hope you have a great Sunday! : )

  15. Oooohh, that Typo Monster! This time, it ate the article "an" that should go in the phrase "...since I am an ESOL teacher myself!" AARRGGH!!

  16. I just got to a computer with internet, so I'm replying late to this.

    I didn't finish my Master's program, for several reasons. The biggest one was that I already had so many student loans that getting more just seemed counter-intuitive to ever being able to pay bills. I'm also more interested in teaching at the college level than I am at anything below that, but what I learned in the program about language and culture was invaluable.

    ESOL students do have absence problems but I've found that they're better behaved than any other students. I'm not sure why that is, but a lot of teachers I've talked to have corroborated this.

    I've read The Fellowship of the Ring, but eventually I'll get around to reading the rest of his books. I love authors who invent languages. :)

    Sorry I didn't get around to responding sooner. I'm without reliable internet at the moment. :( Hope your weekend went well.