Wednesday, March 10

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 21 comments
True confessions: as a kid, I was a bit of a rebel when it came to reading. I come from a family of anti-sports book lovers. Our coffee table was always piled high with magazines. Long car trips usually meant a read-aloud trip to Narnia. Dad devoured historical fiction, especially Civil War stories. Mom loved a good mystery or character-driven mainstream story. My brother gobbled through adventure stories. Me? I preferred being out in the woods, building forts on the stream bank and imagining my own adventures.

In seventh grade, my reading teacher picked up on my rebellious reluctance to read and had a sixth sense about how pre-teens think. She called me over to her closet chock full of paperbacks one day with a "Psst. Come 'ere. I hear you take horseback riding lessons. I've got a little something you might like. Our little secret, though, okay?" She pointed me to a shelf of Walter Farely books and the addictive YA horse stories by Patsey Gray (whose stuff is now considered "rare" and "collectible").

It took just one of Grey's books to get me hooked. From there I devoured every horse book in my small-town library and even re-read the Narnia books on my own. It surprised me to no end how captivating Lewis was in my own internal voice rather than my mom's external one. Perhaps the magic was more sparkling when I didn't have the mind-numbing miles between Pennsylvania and my grandparents' place in western Montana as a soporific backdrop to the experience.

Were you a reader as a kid? What were the gateway books that drew you in to a lifetime habit of reading?

*This is a repost from my early blogging days.


  1. I struggled at first with reading. Then I started reading The Famous Five by Edith Blyton and was hooked. That's when I realized I wanted to be a writer.

  2. I've always loved reading, the escape invigorated me.

    My favorites as a child were The Secret Garden, SVH series, R.L. Stine's Fear Street. Really anything!

  3. One of my grandmothers gave me books. My mother wasn't inclined to read fiction and didn't take me to libraries, as I recall. But I found books somehow. I read dog and horse stories, fairytales, classics and some strange, scary books from the Victorian era that must have been handed down in the family. But I devoured them, even if the poor little princes locked in London Tower gave me nightmares. I would also read mainstream adult novels, much too old for me, that my dad would leave around. When you love to read, you pick up anything. In high school and college, I discovered Ray Bradbury, Tolkien, Thomas Hardy and so many more who opened doors of possibility to me.

  4. I was not a reader as a child. I loved being read to (anything really- but I loved listening to poems and I loved Where the Red Fern Grows), but I didn't enjoy picking up a book to read on my own. I preferred to turn on music and sing, dance or act. I didn't start to love reading until my freshman year at WCU. I think one reason being I don't remember be allowed to pick my own book to read. We didn't have SSR in school that I can remember. I only remember being assigned books to read, and they were books that I had no interest in reading.

  5. I always loved to read. Some of the happiest days of my life were spent with a pile of books on the sofa (yeah, I was a bit of a geek...). I loved Enid Blyton, Canadian author Gordon Korman and, as a pre-teen, Sweet Valley High (I've now aged myself, haven't it)? :)

  6. I always loved to read, I had to be told to put the book down and do something else at times. And I was so hooked on any horse story, I read all Walter Farley about 5 times each. I was nuts about horses. So basically when I wasn't reading I was out with the horses :) Love this post.

  7. I was always a reader as a kid. "Babysitters' Club" and "Sweet Valley" books were my poison. When I entered high school, reading fell away from me. I needed to focus on school work and trying to fit in. (Mission accomplished on the former, still haven't mastered the latter.) My junior year, I really started reading again. Then in college, it kind of backed off. But the week before graduation, I had almost every day free. (Because of my creative scheduling, I only had two finals to worry about - the rest of the week was mine, mine, MINE!) I read FOUR books as I waited for graduation day.

    I haven't stopped reading since. :o)

  8. Walter Farley *sigh*. I was in love with horses and horse books. I even convinced my parents to buy me a horse! (I lived on a farm.) I read Louisa May Alcott. I read all the Little House books. The Rocking Horse Secret. Thanks for bringing back the book memories.

  9. I was always a book worm. I started reading when I was very young (like 2 years old young) and haven't ever stopped. Starting that early, I guess Little Golden Books were my gateway "books" on the road to full on addiction. By the time I hit my "tween" years I was hooked on books like Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, etc. They're still some of my favorites!

  10. I read everything by Judy Bloom (talk about dating yourself) the Trixie Beldon series, anything with horses, Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, and then devoured my mother's collection of Rod McKuen poetry. After that I read everything and anything I could get my hands on.

  11. This may sound trite, but I loved The Little Princess and Heidi. I wanted to live in those stories when my mother read them to me each night. As I grew older, I moved on to Narnia, Nancy Drew, and The Lord Of The Rings. Great book memories!

  12. I was always with a book in hand. I remember reading those Choose Your Own Adventures and Judy Blume, The Babysitters' Club. The typical 1980 girl-reading. :)

    I would never touch Nancy Drew because that was what my mom read as a kid. I was "too cool" to read the same books she did.

  13. I first got hooked on reading when I was 6, with one of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books. I read a bunch of those, and then moved onto Patricia Reilly Giff's books. Then as I got older, I was into the Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley, and then by middle school I discovered novels.

  14. I was a huge reader from the get-go. My mom read some, my dad never read fiction, and my sister hated reading. But my mom took us regularly to the library and fed me the magic. Didn't take long to get hooked.

  15. Reading, writing and music were a huge part of my childhood, and my life drugs of choice then and now.

    (Anne, I loved Judy Bloom too.)

    This is my first time here...great blog!
    I'm having some freakish google 'follow' glitch at the moment. Until I figure out how to fix it, I am adding you to my bookmarks/reader and 'following' you that way. I will be back.


  16. Stina: One of the most gifted young writers I know has dyslexia. She started publishing poetry nationally at 16. Learning differences can't squash creativity.

    Tamika: I started reading The Secret Garden to my daughter this week. Fun for both of us since I never read it as a kid.

    Tricia: Ooh, scary old-style lit! I remember my mom reading me her mother's Raggedy Ann books from the 19-teens. They had freaky weird pictures and stories.

    Kelly: Teachers need to hear stories like yours--about being turned off by assigned reading. I think that was my experience also--having to read stupid "level readers" that were just story excerpts instead of real literature. It sucked away any fun or magic.

    Talli: Thanks for coming by and following. i discovered Blyton in Jr. High. I definitely see her influence on Rowling--HP is in many ways in the vein of Blyton's fun boarding school stories.

  17. Crystal: Aha! Another horse book afficianado. You'd love the Patsey Grey books.

    E.Elle: Fitting in with nonreaders is something I've not yet mastered either. Sorry reading got the boot in HS. My guy friends got my hooked on SciFi during those years and we had the best lunch times arguing about Dune and Pern.

    Mary: Sniffle. Riding lessons were all my parents could afford. I just read the whole Little House series to my daughter--it was my first time too. Making up for lost time. :-)

    Rhonda: The Green Gables books!! *sigh* Love them. I didn't discover them till I was 25 and inhaled them in a few months. I wish I'd read them younger--I was a lot like Anne with a penchant for daydreaming and mischief.

    Anne: Judy Blume was a fave of mine too, Marguerite Henry too. I recall loving Black Gold and King of the Wind, as well as her Chincoteage series.

  18. Roxy: Not trite at all, especially since they transported you so utterly. I wish reading had appealed more before I was 12.

    Amber: Yeah, Nancy Drew always struck me as excessively dated too. Never read them. Speaking of '80s, did you ever read any Ellen Conford? She & Blume seem to me the queens of 80s YA.

    Shelley: I just picked up a pile of Ramona books for my 7-yo. Hope she likes them as much as you did!

    Jemi: A library habit is helpful to encourage reading. I think lack of access to a library took a huge toll on my early reading habits.

    Lola: Thanks for coming by. I hope you are able to follow by Saturday so you'll be entered in my drawing!

  19. Chronicles of Narnia! I can actually remember the physical sensation of picking up Voyage of the Dawn Treader in my church library when I was ten. I was completely hooked. I still read those books whenever I need to completely escape. I was given a set in college and reread them so much they fell to pieces last year.

  20. I read and re-read Follow My Leader by James Garfield, Riff Remember by Lynn Hall, and the Princess and the Goblin. :-)

  21. Jenna: nice new pic--you've grown your hair out. No place quite like Narnia. We've enjoyed the books on tape recently. My favorite is still The Horse and His Boy.

    Shannon: I may check those out. Always looking for good read-alouds with Claire.