So, what with Utah’s poor Iowa Test scores, I’ve had a few people asking me how I turned all my children into such voracious little readers. “Did you read to them every day when they were little?” friends query.
“Why, no. Of course not,” I respond. “I’m much too selfish for that.”
Which is sort of the truth. On one hand, they did and do get read to almost every day—because scriptures count as reading, my friends. And, stellar saints that we are, we read as a family most every day. And, yes, I counted the “comics” picture scriptures as “scripture reading” when they were little.
On the other hand, I am not and have not ever been a consistent storybook reader. I have hoards of cute books, and we did read them occasionally. But I simply did not follow all that good advice about reading stories every single day. I am much too selfish for that. Bedtime came for the little people, and I was anxious to put them there—so I could go read my own books.
That is the whole truth: I don’t read to my kids. I read in front of my kids.
I read obsessively, compulsively. I probably have a disorder. I’m the lady you see reading at the red stoplight. (I have my kids trained to tell me when the light turns green because I just have to know what happens next. Even when parked at an intersection.) I have piles of books by my bed, by my computer desk, on the side tables, and on the end tables, and every bookshelf in the house is double- or triple-stacked. I laugh at the silly Home Show bookshelves that are inevitably filled with more decorations than books or with obviously unread leather bound classics. But I am jealous of how cute they look, so sometimes I try to put decorations on my bookshelves and arrange them nicely. But it only lasts a week or a month before new books squish or smash the cluttery pretty things. I love books, and I love reading—love them so much that I feel rather nasty and off-ish if I don’t spend at least a half-hour per day (and usually much, much more) in some fantasy land living a crazy life through someone else’s eyes.
I suppose my kids have learned from my example because I wouldn’t have judged a few of them as native, instinctive readers. But it has worked out beautifully. I’ve read what I wanted, and they’ve learned to love reading. I see this as one example of when selfishness pays off. I sure wish there were more.