Readers: Born or Bred? Posted by Maureen Lang
January 18, 2012 6 Comments
I’ve heard it said that if you read to your children, then set the good example of reading your own books where they can see you doing so, children are more likely to grow up to be readers themselves.
I wonder if that’s really true. It sounds like it should be true. I certainly want it to be true, because I’ve done that with my own children—mainly because it came naturally to me. I wanted to read to them because it was fun. And I couldn’t help but read in front of them because, well, I’m a reader.
However, am I a reader because my parents read to me? No. I may very well be a writer because my mother told my sister and I stories that she made up out of her head — inspiring me to make up stories of my own — but I don’t recall ever seeing my mother sit down to read a book. And my father? Well, he did read portions of a couple of non-fiction books about World War Two, mainly because he’d lived the experience and wanted to compare what they were writing to what he recalled. But he never once read a book to me. Overall I’d have to say he didn’t set an example as a reader, either.
As for my nurturing example: my daughter is an even more avid reader than I am. Since she is my oldest, I might once have taken the credit and said she’s a reader because I nurtured it in her. But since I also have a fourteen year old son who must be reminded (i.e. forced) to do his reading homework, a son who saw in me the same things my daughter did, he proves my fine example did nothing. He’s a reader only through coercion.
Perhaps reading passions have something to do with differences between boys and girls. Or perhaps a reading gene has yet to reveal itself in my son. With age he may recall my example of reading and take it up himself someday. I can only hope.
But at this point in my observation, I’d have to say readers are born, not bred.
What do you think? Were you born a reader, or bred to become one? Perhaps a mix of both?