Thanksreading 2020: The Roots of Reading

Another year has passed, and it’s time for the third annual round of Thanksreading, my yearly round-up of literary gratitude.

It’s been a strange year for reading. I’ve found it hard to focus and feel settled comfortably between the covers of many books. Given the global circumstances, it’s not surprising, and I’ve talked to other typically enthusiastic readers who’ve dealt with the same thing. 

Despite a deficit (but not a complete absence) of reading, I’ve done much thinking about books, their important role in my life, and why they mean as much to me as they do. And as the week leading up to Thanksgiving approached, I figured that maybe this year’s Thanksreading pieces should be dedicated to the books, authors, and people in my life who’ve helped make me the bookworm I am today.

It’s been said – with plenty of evidence to back it up – that reading to your kids throughout their childhood provides many benefits, including developing their own love of reading. I can tell you from firsthand experience that this is true. I know it’s true because I was read to consistently when I was a child, and we read to our own kids, who have a great love of books now.

Some of my earliest memories are of laying in bed, listening to my favorite stories as I drifted off to sleep. 

By the time I was 6, my parents had probably had quite enough of The Monster at the End of This Book: Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover by Jon Stone and Mike Smolin. I still had a couple years in me before I was through with it, though. They were also pretty sick of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, I’d imagine. When I started school and began bringing home library books, those stories must have brought a breath of fresh air into the house with them. 

When my three kiddos were little, they had their own favorites, like all kids do, and I got sick of them, just like all parents do. 

Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems by Judy Sierra.

Good Boy, Fergus! by David Shannon.

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner.

Those literary beginnings have led to a love of books by writers as diverse as Jack Kerouac, Rainbow Rowell, and Jeff VanderMeer. 

There are few gifts to share that are greater than the gift of reading, and it is one that I’m grateful for every day. Both as one I’ve received and one I’ve given. Reading – even the smaller amount I’ve done lately – has played a big part in getting me through these hard times. And that will continue to be the case.

Tomorrow I’ll hone in on some specific books and the impact they had on me. I hope you’ll be back to check it out. 

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