When I was a little girl, my mom would read stories to my sister and I. We loved story time, we would curl up as close to my mom as possible, as if the closer to the source of the words we were, the more magic they held over us. We had to see the words, touch to pages, watch my mom's face as she transitioned from character to character. My favorite book was James and the Giant Peach, I am pretty sure my mom read that about a billion times. And while I was an avid listener, I did not turn into an avid reader. So by the time I was in the second grade my mom, who was a school teacher, decided I should be reading more and did what any good parent/teacher would do, she bribed me, with money:
Mom: Pud, how 'bout I pay you for...
According to my memory (see blog post #1, My first time), I received $1 for each book I read, my mom says it was $0.25. Either way I would say she owes me a lot of money because I have read tons of books since our agreement was reached. But I will let it slide since she has bought me stuff through the years, and there is that whole giving birth thing, so let's just call it even. Operation "Bribe Pud to Read" worked so well on me that my parents decided to try it with my sister when she entered the second grade:
Mom and Dad: Puck, if you start reading we will pay you $1 for every book! How does that sound?
Puck: I will start reading when I want to.
Puck was not as easily persuaded as yours truly.
Soon after being bribed to read, I found that I loved reading. I became immersed in the stories, which played like a movie in my head. I could see, smell, touch everything the characters could. I would read and it was as if I was in a trance, my immediate surroundings turned into whatever scene I was reading in the book. No stimulus from the real world could break my concentration. Sometimes I would pretend I was one of the characters, other times I would become a new character that I had made up and inserted into the story. Reading was fun.
My first "chapter" book was The Boxcar Children. I didn't quite get the concept of chapters so I picked the chapter with the best sounding title and started there. Turns out "chapter" books do not make much sense if you start in the middle. I then moved on to "series" books, The Babysitters Club, Anne of Green Gables, The Chronicles of Narnia. I couldn't stop reading, I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters as soon as I could, I had become friends with them, so to speak.
I loved reading so much that I would read anywhere, on vacation, on a raft, during BBQs, inside, outside. I would read during class; math class, science class, social studies. I thought I was sneaky, I thought no one could see that I was holding a book inside the cubby of my desk and reading it during class. It turns out the teacher could. In the fourth grade my teacher sent a note home to my parents stating that I read too much. This is probably the only case in the history of the world of a teacher discouraging a child from reading.
When we were given a book to read at school we were only supposed to read the pages assigned, we would then discuss what happened. The problem was, I couldn't put the book down, and I usually finished it within a few days. Of course I forgot all the minute details and even major plot lines, and when it came time to discuss the book I was at a loss. This problem was not exclusive to books assigned in school. Even when reading books for leisure I would forget plots or confuse characters. As time progressed I read more and more, which meant I accumulated more and more characters and plots to mix up and intertwine in my memory . It's like a 40 story New York City tenement building up there.
Yet somehow I persevered. I kept on reading. And while the genre of books have changed over the years a few things remain the same. I am still put in a trance whenever I read, I can still see the stories playing like movies in my head, I still see myself in the stories, I still feel like I am losing a friend whenever a story or series ends. I still love to read.
My favorite book is that one where Elizabeth Bennet falls in love with Prince Caspian who is in love with Kate Minola who may or may not be a vampire and who's family is mortal enemies with the Montagues who are werewolves and live at Hogwarts in Paris immediately after World War I where all the young people just seem so lost so they all start going to Spain to watch bull fights. Don't worry there is a happy ending, I think, I can't really remember.