During the course of a phone conversation last night, the subject of reading came up. It's a subject that is dear to my heart. I started reading when I was four and have spent the ensuing 22 years tearing through as many books as possible. In this conversation, it was suggested that a love of reading is a learned passion based on modeled behavior. In other words, if the parents or influential adults in a child's life model a love of reading and encourage the same, the child will likely love reading. This is true in my case.
My parents both love to read. I clearly remember both my mother and my father reading to me and encouraging me to read on my own. Trips to the library were a weekly ritual. As I got older, my parents shared books they loved with me. My father encouraged me to read The Hobbit and later the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. My mother shared Anne of Green Gables and Little Women with me. By the time I was a teenager, I was checking out books and plays by Dickens, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Conan Doyle...the list goes on.
After I got off the phone, I was thinking about the effect of literature in my life. I have read more books than I can even remember, but they all have helped shape who I am. The one that sticks out more than any other is Island of the Blue Dolphins. If you have never read this book, you should. It is a short work of youth fiction. It really resonates with me and is a book I have read several times. I know most of the people reading my blog don't have kids and likely won't have kids any time soon. But keep this in mind for when you do. Your children will follow your example and even something as simple as sitting down with a book and enjoying reading can be passed down as a legacy.