So just how much does what you read -- or how you read -- as a child predict or mold the kind of reader or writer or person you turn out to be?
I come from a family of compulsive readers. My grandmother used to come visit us with a suitcase just filled with romance novels. Her son, my father, reads in a similar way: mysteries, thrillers, Tarzan, and non-fiction -- constantly. My mother is a little choosier but has always gone to the library and come back with a huge armload. However, my parents hardly ever read to us when we were kids. Reading was a private thing, not a shared activity. In fact, it was more like smoking than anything else: a thing we did when we were bored or anxious or alone, not a warm, family thing at all.
I think about this because there's a lot of pressure on parents to read to their kids these days, and I'm not sure I'm one hundred percent behind it. That sounds like horrible heresy, doesn't it? But I wonder: if children's experience of reading is entirely connected to their parents, won't they reject it when they begin to move away from their families and forge their own identities? What if, for the next generation, books get all tainted with uncool mom-ness?
JRL and I do read to our kids. Since we're uptight we don't let them watch TV or play video games, and staring at the wall gets dull after a bit, so they read a lot on their own, too. But I want them to experience the feeling of discovering a great book on their own -- that power to escape dull family life.
Oh, well, I'm probably worrying for nothing: reading is inherently an internal thing, isn't it?
I love my mom, but I can't help but think that Harriet the Spy or The Secret Garden would have been less potent for me if I'd listened to them on her lap.