Arthur and I were talking recently, and I shared some of my best childhood memories with him. My grandmother, Rose, was an unbelievable inspiration to me. One of eight children, she was the only girl, and her education wasn’t as important to her family as it should have been. Her last bit of formal education was eighth grade, yet she never stopped learning. She was highly cultured, often enjoying the symphony or taking in shows, and she raised my mother to follow in those footsteps. My mom was one of few women of her age to attain a college education and use that education to pursue a career in teaching.
Grandma Rose was never without a book in hand and taught my mother the importance of reading. My mother kept a collection of her favorite books, and I spent many hours pouring over well-read copies of Heidi, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Jane Eyre, to name a few. Of course it was Grandma who first introduced me to my childhood hero...Nancy Drew, and I never looked back. Every week we would walk to the Bala Cynwood shopping plaza and eat a wonderful lunch at the local Horn & Hardart Restaurant. When I was sufficiently stuffed, we wandered several doors down to Doubleday Bookstore, and I was allowed to pick a Nancy Drew book to add to my collection. We would then return to her house and spend the afternoon reading together. I prized those books and those Saturday afternoons with my grandmother and believe that was what started my addiction to reading.
Indeed it is an addiction. I must have several books at my fingertips at all times. Before the days of electronic books, travel used to present quite a challenge for poor Arthur. It was his responsibility to pack my books, and I always packed two per day. We had to overtip bellmen to carry insanely heavy suitcases to our room, and I was never really settled in until the books were unpacked and stacked on my nightstand. My children used to watch me with mild amusement, but I noticed that their suitcases felt heavier than they should have, too. I don’t know if it was heredity or environment, but Mike enjoys reading and Beth is as obsessed with her collection of books as I ever was.
Then, of course their is Sarah. Sarah Rose (yes, she is named after grandma Rose) puts all of us to shame. I have a picture of Sarah when she was approximately six months old, propped up on a big chair with a book on her lap. She is intently staring at the pages with a smile on her face and her finger pointing to something. The only time she ever gets in trouble in school is when she is reading her book during a lecture. We went to pick her up from Sunday school one day, and we became anxious when she didn’t show. We asked her friends who said she left with everyone else, yet she was nowhere to be found. Eventually I saw her turning a corner, nose in her book. It seems she left the classroom, got to an exciting part of her book, and leaned up against the wall to finish the chapter. Some of my favorite moments with Sarah are in a bookstore when I let her pick out a book or two for her week’s entertainment.
So for those of you who ask me how to get your children interested in reading, I say that you need to put down your iPhone and pick up a book. If they see how important reading is to you, they just might decide to give it a try. In fact, children’s literature is so well written today, you might want to share reading material with your children. Some of today’s most prolific authors (Patterson, Grisham, Coben, etc.) write novels for young readers that stand right up with the best of their adult novels.
Reading might just become a bonding experience.
In fact, the first book I reviewed this week is Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar Novel written by one of my top authors, Harlan Coben. It is a well written young-adult mystery featuring Mickey Bolitar. If the name sounds familiar it is because Mickey was introduced in one of Coben’s Myron Bolitar books. This is a fun read for you and your children.
In case you never read a Myron Bolitar book, I also reviewed Deal Breaker, the first in this Harlan Coben series. It is probably the weakest in this series, but it is a great place to meet all of the characters and get some backstories.
As always, complete reviews of Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar Novel and Deal Breaker follow this blog.