How did you become a reader? What factors influenced you to take it up as a hobby? For instance, was it your mom who read to you every night? Or was it a high school friend who started lending you books? Or maybe it was a really inspiring teacher whom you wanted to emulate. Whatever it was, we hope you tell us all the story of how you became a leisure reader and what it is about reading that you enjoy so much.
Three people started me off in the world of books.
Mamma: she’s a former public school teacher. I saw how her teaching style at home was hardly any different from how she was at work. My brothers were too old for preschooler books by the time I was around and I couldn’t tell if I was a difficult student or not. But, since I came to love reading, my guess is I was okay enough.
Pappa: compared to Mamma, he’s a private reader. He has certain spots and seats in the house that he deems conducive to reading. Place him anywhere else and he probably won’t. Pappa was Mamma’s alternate when she couldn’t read for me. He worked at the local printing press and he introduced me to various processes of how written word becomes printed.
Lola: before she retired, she sold printed material. So she knew the value of the printed word, both figuratively and literally. She was Mamma’s other alternate. But since her eyes weren’t as good as before, she read only stuff that had big font sizes.
Our home had an enough number of books. But it increased when our neighbors—a pastor and his whole family—went abroad. They left with us a whole bookcase of books! Okay, most of those books weren’t exactly kid-friendly: think scholarly and technical books. Thank goodness he had school-age kids, which meant a few schoolbooks and storybooks. They weren’t meant for my age then but it was close. And I could easily settle for that.
When I became too old for preschool but too young for the class Mamma taught, she’d leave me at the library. On most days, it’d just be me and the librarian. Sometimes, I’d be alone [read: all by myself] at the library for hours! One whole afternoon wasn’t enough to flip through all the tomes. And I came across favorites that, even though I have read them before, I’d read them again.
Since, sometimes I was alone at the library, I’d read aloud to myself. I love it when the book has dialogues between characters. I’d read them using different voices. I’d be so into the moment that I’d be so loud, you could hear me from two doors down the hall. One time, I was doing exactly that and only stopped when I felt someone was watching me. And there was someone watching me! I immediately became quiet. I may even have put back the book I was reading. I don’t remember much about what happened next because I felt embarrassed by the stunt I pulled.
That same afternoon, when Mamma and I went home, she said she was proud of me. I was at a loss why. Turns out that the person watching me that afternoon was no other than the school principal! She asked around to know whose kid was reading at the library. When she learned of my identity, she told my mom that I was good, that I should keep reading, and that my mother was doing a good job teaching me and her class.
[Little side note: I no longer remember the title of that beloved book. I have been trying to search for it but I just cannot find it. Well, if you have better luck than me, maybe you could help. All I could tell you is that it was about a boy in a room (I think it was an attic) with a supposedly magical and painfully colorful parrot that granted all his wishes. The one name I’m sure of is Old Septimus.]
School library was one of my usual haunts, since there were very few kids who’d be caught dead there. There were a few friends who were also readers but we differed too much about our choice genres so we didn’t bother swapping books. But that was back then. Now we’re more open to other types.
Fast forward to college and I loved four out of seven classes I was enrolled in. That’s because the requirements for those classes were to read (then write). I still remember lugging around a full copy of Beowulf. It was about four inches thick, about foot and a half tall, and ¾ of a foot wide. And it was old, really old. And reading those old books and stories fanned a great frustration; had the option been available to me, I would’ve been a mythologist-folklorist.
Color me geeky but I enjoyed all those reading assignments. It was always a flood but I loved drowning in it. And that’s how, I believe, I came to be drawn to anthologies. Usually, there was something for everyone there.
It’s a no-brainer that school would require reading. It so happens that, in my case, church did so too! Our weekly gathering at church included in its programs the review of lessons that were read for the past six nights. Plus, by practice, our family reads a morning devotional together. Usually it’s Pappa who leads the devotional. It’s one of those short moments that bonds us a family.
Reading is, by itself, is a wonderful childhood memory for me. It contains the smells of new paper, old leather, and dried wood, the sounds of rusty gears, howling winds, and noisy chickens, and the sights of people and places that I have come to love and remember.
Books are a fountain of youth whereby I become a kid every time I read and grow up every time I finish. Reading is my age, the youth that would never fade nor die.