While my earliest memory as a child was watching a movie, memories of holding a book occur almost immediately after. I grew up surrounded by books, everywhere. Both my parents were huge bibliophiles. It was rare that either didn’t have a book in hand or at least close by. Additionally, Mom was a teacher and taught my brother and me to read by the age of three. She often told us, “I never want to hear you say I’m bored.” Pointing at one of our house’s numerous bookshelves, she’d continue, “There’s a wonderful world for you right there. You never have to be bored.” Her advice definitely took hold and we became a family that read together all the time.
My brother David went off into non-fiction land, at one point reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica straight through. Yes, he is that smart and no, you never ever ever want to play Trivial Pursuit with him. Talk about trivial pursuits (rim shot!)
I loved fiction myself and was devouring books early. Yes, that was me carrying Gone With The Wind into elementary school at the age of 9 and no, the consequences were not pleasant. I’m a stubborn SOB, though and it did not deter me. Few things are better in life than a good book.
I believe a lot of people don’t like to read because they were handed long boring books at an early age, the desire to read being mutilated before it could begin. Not that we shouldn’t be challenged. But before being challenged, we need to fall in love. Show me someone who doesn’t love to read and I bet they were handed Beowulf or a Thomas Hardy novel way too young. Mom was pretty adept at handing me books that caused me to fall in love with reading. I daresay if most young boys, for instance, were handed something like The Black Stallion, most would turn into avid readers. The Black Stallion has it all: a shipwreck, a kid living alone on a deserted island, no adults to boss him around, while taming a wild stallion, eventually riding that stallion in an exciting race. What else could you want?? After a number of books like that (Danger, Dinosaurs! Wow!) I spent hours reading and never turned back. As a family, when we went on vacation, we often went somewhere where the four of us could just lay in the sun and read for a week. We’d each bring 5 or 6 books and life was good. It’s still my favorite way to spend a vacation.