My Love Of Reading

A few days ago a fellow BookCrosser asked for children’s books. I had a few so I send her a box. There were a few books I had read as a child.

Lotje

These books were used for learning to read. Nowadays this happens in small groups I’ve been told. Groups of children that are on the same level. In my time we had to read with the whole class. It didn’t matter if you were ahead or behind on your reading skills. This is what we read and you have to do it.

Now I’ve always been an avid reader. Ever since I started to read I’ve been reading everything that I could get my hands on. My mom took me to the library when I was very little and when I was 4 I got my own library card. In these days (and it’s not that long ago) a child couldn’t get a library card if they were younger than 4. It’s quite different now, thankfully.

So these books triggered a few happy memories and quite a few bad ones as well.

“Frouk, would you read the next paragraph?” Well, I would, but I had no idea where in heaven’s name we were. Being ahead of my class in reading I silently read more than I should have and lost where the rest of the class was in the book. This, of course, got me into trouble quite a few times.

“Frouk, you can’t read that book, it’s too advanced for you.” No, it wasn’t. I had read that particular book from the library and enjoyed it so much I wanted to read it again. It was supposed to be for the class ahead of ours and me reading it got me into trouble again.
This happened a lot and after a while I didn’t want to read books from the library anymore. When my mom heard why not she went to our teacher and I got moved ahead (as the only one in my class) just for reading. I know soon after that they’ve changed the way they taught children how to read, but I’m not sure if my case had anything to do with that.

“You can’t borrow book from that section.” Our library had three children’s sections; 6-9, 9-12, 12-16. And in these days you weren’t even allowed to wander into a different section of you were choosing your own books. Now I started reading books for the ages 9-12 when I was 7. My mom and dad applauded this and always encouraged me to read whatever I wanted (within limits of course). But the library wasn’t that encouraging and it got me into trouble a few times.

“You can’t come in here 3 times a week and constantly borrowing books.” Yes, this was actually said to me by a librarian. Our library was open three afternoons a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And every single one of these days I was there, borrowing more books. By this time the limit was only 3 books and I read them all in two days. Kids books just aren’t as thick as adult books. Luckily my mom was there and told them I could come in as many times as I’d like, provided I brought back the books I’d previously borrowed.

“You can’t borrow boys books.” My favourite book series are ‘boys’ books. But apparently girls can’t read those books. I’m still not sure why. In the following years I’ve heard this many times (never by my family) and never stopped reading those books. On the contrary, my love for ‘boys’ books has grown and I’m buying them whenever I find them in charity shops.

“Your mom needs to borrow her own books.” By the time I was 14 I’d pretty much read the entire children’s section. My mom gave me permission to borrow ‘adult’ books. Of course the library did not agree with me borrowing adult books and my mom had to come with me every time I wanted to borrow books. By this time I was in high school and had homework, friends and sport, so my reading time was reduced quite a bit. The maximum amount of books was upped from 3 to 5, so this meant I was only in there about once a week. It took quite a bit of persuasion before I was actually allowed to take adult books and sometimes still got into trouble with it.

“Why are you always reading?” Again, said by a librarian. And still, I have no idea why she said this. You are in a library, what do you expect people to do? Maybe it was because I was in the check out line and many times I started reading while waiting. I don’t know.

“Why have you chosen the hardest books?” We had to read 10 books for our exams in high school. And I did not choose the thinnest, easiest books, like my classmates did. And of course this triggered a lot of abuse from them. They thought me reading thicker books would have an impact on their grade. I don’t think it had any effect. Only their own actions had an effect on their grades.

“Why would you even read such a thick book?” Said to me by a teacher. Yes, a teacher… I was reading The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough at the time. And, as you might know, this books is almost 700 pages. So why? Because I’d seen the mini series and I enjoyed them and I enjoyed reading the book as well.

Luckily, all these snarky comments have never stopped me from reading. I’m very grateful to my dad, who let me borrow his Kameleon books when I was just 7 years old, and to my mom, who always encouraged my love of reading.

old cover (1955)