I’m debunking a popular quote as myth rather than truth, at least in my family.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
– Emilie Buchwald
I call bull shit.
I have been reading to my boys, ages ten and twelve since birth and I have been a reader since forever. There are books everywhere in our home. There are probably too many books, but that’s beside the point. If I had placed a wager on giving birth to a bookworm(s), well I would have lost, but I wouldn’t have even questioned losing while making the bet.
Let’s go back a bit. My mom has always been a voracious reader. She read to my brother, sister, and I and was constantly taking us to the library and book shops. As much as kids think their parents are only thinking about them a hundred percent of the time, my mom was doing this for herself just as much as she was trying to instill the value and delight of reading in to us- and I love that. Some of my favorite memories of her include watching her read on her bed using her tiny reading light. When we went to the library her section and ours were on the second floor. After we traipsed up the steps we went left and she went straight. After awhile she’d come grab us, balancing her stack of books, we’d grab ours and head to check out. Those were some of the best days.
My boys just don’t enjoy reading. I don’t shove it down their throats, but that’s only because it still wouldn’t make them like it. When they get older they might develop a liking, but I’m not holding my breath. I fully understand that they have different interests. I just thought that some, or at least a smidgen of my outrageous love for reading would’ve been inherited. As in, if they would have come out of the womb holding a chapter book I would’ve smugly looked at the doctor and nodded, silently acknowledging my strong literary genes, No such luck. Recently I was going through some of the well-loved and worn children’s books that were read to them countless times. One that had been repeatedly taped up made me smile. I asked my oldest, while smiling like a cheesy Hallmark commercial, “You remember this one?” He kind of grimaced and said, “Maybe?” Maybe?!!!!! I read this so many times I still have most of it memorized! All I get is a maybe- are you kidding me?! I quickly flipped to a center page that I always made a big deal out while reading quite animatedly to him. “What about this page, don’t you remember baby llama being so upset?!” Again, not much of a response and maybe even a hint of annoyance. So I cut my nostalgic trip down memory lane short and put the basket of books away.
Maybe it skips a generation, maybe I’ll have a grandchild one day and he or she will love books. But you know what- I’m not betting the house on it.
“What kind of life can you have in a house without books?”
– Sherman Alexie