Happy National Reading Month

This photograph of me at seven reading to my new little sister Mary Ellen is one of my favorites. I have always been a reader and recently I was talking with a friend about how that came to be. 

As a kid, my parents definitely read to me. My dad also used to make up stories about a beloved character named Rocky Raccoon. I made frequent trips to the library and the bookmobile. Our main library branch had an art collection available to check out and I kept renewing an ornately-framed Renoir for my bedroom. I loved Junior Great Books and kept lists of my summer reading (I still keep annual lists of what I've read each year). I used to read straight through books, finish one and pick up another without a pause. I remember my mother would call from the kitchen to come set the table for dinner and I would beg to finish a chapter or just one more page. Once at the dinner table, we were frequently sent to the set of encyclopedias to look up answers to questions. I knew how much my dad loved his book club, which he was in for over 20 years. My mom read too and books were just part of our family routine.

When I had the chicken pox, I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia seven book box set. I went through a phase of Sweet Valley High, Choose Your Own Adventure, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, Louis L'Amour and Victoria Holt; and later Dickens, Hemingway and Anais Nin. I read the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in the Sunday Paper. I flipped through my parents' New Yorker Magazine to read the cartoons. My Aunt Pam gave me A Wrinkle in Time at the right moment and my Uncle Jim gave me Robert Frost's book of poetry You Come Too, to coincide with an art show which included his diptych with the poem "Fire and Ice." I spent weeks happily organizing all our books in the basement with the intent of opening a neighborhood lending library, but I really just wanted to play librarian. When my older brother entered St. Thomas as a freshman, he game me a copy of the Lifetime Reading Plan they gave him, full of recommendations and a page of blank lines to add your personal list. I still have mine.

As an adult, I treasure my books, especially those inscribed by friends and family. I collect ABC books and consider books the best way to decorate a room. At one point in my twenties, I had to ban myself from buying new books and allowed myself only to purchase used books (all the better to sell and trade for new ones!) And then in my thirties, I rediscovered the library and now borrow piles and piles for me and my children.

Recently I read the two most important factors in raising a reader - even more than reading to them regularly - is providing a book-rich environment and having parents model reading for pleasure. Check. Check. And looking back, that is what my parents gave me. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

Here is my son Xavier at age two "reading" to his baby sister:


  1. This so reminds me of my own childhood. My mom definitely bestowed upon me a genuine, lifelong love of reading, a gift I am grateful for. Her bedtime ritual included reading in bed every night, as mine always has. When my son was born, it became a new kind of pleasure to read to him. And now as he learns to read, our adventure continues down a new path. Thanks for sharing (and making me smile with the Sweet Valley High reference!). I adore your pictures, as well—those are keepers!

    1. Thanks so much for your response, Dawn! I love to hear this is a gift you've been given as well. Happy reading! Thanks for commenting!