Books have been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was taught to read both at home and at school, and was given the freedom to choose whatever genre I decided on. My experiences with books were always positive, which allowed me to develop a love for literature. The reading that I did throughout my childhood helped to shape both the genres I enjoy and the amount I read today.
The earliest memory I have containing books involves my mother reading me bedtime stories. She would read to me before bed each night, and I quickly developed favourites. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss was at the top of my list, and I would request this book more often than any other. I loved how the words flowed off the pages and the rhymes stuck in my head, as well as how vibrant the images on the pages were.
At this age, primary colors definitely appealed to me. After reading this book to me for what seemed to be the hundredth time, my mother thought she would trick me by skipping pages in the book in order to get through it faster. Unfortunately for her, by this time I had memorized the entire book, word for word. I would throw a fit and refuse to go to bed until she went back and reread the book properly.
Throughout kindergarten, grade one, and grade two, my school had a reading program. It was used to positively reinforce books in a child’s life. Each day at the end of class, children had to sign out at least one book to take home and read it with their parents.
There were five levels of books, ranging from easy to difficult, and points that were given according to what level of book the child chose. Parents had to sign off that their child had read these books, and both the book and parental signature would be returned the following day. When the points were totaled at the end of each week, the child with the highest amount of points was allowed to choose a prize from a range of small toys or stuffed animals.
I would strive to have the most points at the end of each and every week, and was usually able to succeed in doing so. I would sometimes try to take home four or five books a night, just to earn extra points. What I loved most about the reading program was the fact that children were able to choose their own books to take home, rather than being assigned a book. By choosing my own books, I was able to determine what genres I preferred, and which I would rather not read at all.
Another major influence on my reading as a child was my older sister. She was five years older than me, and the books she was reading fascinated me. They involved stories of girls with boyfriends, and girls having their own adventures. I would always ask her to tell me about the newest book she was reading, and would sometimes steal it and pretend I was reading the same book, even if I couldn’t understand the majority of the words. I would push myself to read outside of my own reading level, always asking my parents to explain the meanings of new words.
I did this until I too could read The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew. When my sister started reading books about children with fatal diseases, by the author Lauren McDaniel, I wanted to read these books as well. Their illnesses became my own, their thoughts became my thoughts, and their world became my world. This continued throughout my life, until I reached the age where our reading levels were the same.
Today, my sister and I have very similar tastes in books. If I finish a book that I know my sister will enjoy, I will mail it to her home in Ontario so she is able to get the same amount of pleasure out of it as I did, and she always returns the favor.
Today, I enjoy reading fantasy, classic literature, and various works of fiction. I was able to develop my specific tastes by experimenting with different genres while I was growing up. By having the freedom to choose what genres I enjoyed both at home and at school, I acquired a love for books. I have read hundreds of titles, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.