Monday, August 1, 2011

Inspired to Read

From the time I was a little girl I knew that reading was a magical thing, something that could take you away and give voice to your thoughts. How this came about I have to attribute to my mother. Not that I ever remember her having the time to read a book but she made certain that it was an integral part of my childhood. From my first steps reading Dick and Jane books at school to the innumerable trips we made to the library (a place where you could have as many books as you wanted? For free? How can this be?!). Is it odd that I clearly remember every library in every city where we lived? From the children’s room at the Greeley Public library with big squashy bean bag chairs and sunlight streaming through the windows to the tiny town library where I’d read through the entire collection of children’s books by the time I hit 5th grade. I even remember the first book I was allowed to check out on my own with my own library card. I made my mother hang out for an hour while I trolled up and down the aisles to find just the right book. It was the intriguing Laurie and Company by Eleanor Lattimore. I loved that book!

When I was in middle school the librarian called my mother to tell her she was concerned that I was reading books that were too old for someone my age. My mother nicely but firmly told her that “if Cathy wants to read something then she’s old enough”. I look on that as one of the most affirming things she ever did for me. Now, did it mean I was left to my own devices? No! She always knew what I was reading and would often talk to me about various books. The only reading thing I was able to slip past her was my illicit reading of Cosmopolitan magazine when I was 13 and alone at the library. She thought Barbies promoted poor self-image so Cosmo would have sent her over the edge.

Libraries aside, my mother also incorporated books into the world of holidays and gifts. Every Easter we got a book with our Easter basket and at Christmas I was as excited by the latest Nancy Drew as I was by the Snow White Madame Alexander doll. As an adult she has continued to indulge this passion by buying me first editions of books I love.

Is it any surprise then that I became an English major in college and then went on to become a librarian? Perhaps not the best choices in these trying times but I still find reading to be my greatest escape. It’s also still a link between my mother and me as we discuss books as much as anything else. This love of words and reading was easily the best gift my mother gave me.

This post comes from the following prompt at The Red Dress Club:

Everyone remembers that first inspiration or mentor in their lives that made them want to be or do something in their lives, whether you actually followed through with it or not. Tell us about that inspiration/mentor. How did they affect or change your life!


Abby said...

Very cool. Very.
I was also the kid that was reading all the time--in the car, while watching TV, while eating. Hell, I still do that, and am grateful that my mom encouraged that behavior (and bought the books, of course.) I love finding people who share my love of getting lost in a opposed to getting lost in my back yard, which has been known to happen.

Great take on the prompt.

Catherine said...

Abby- I forgot about reading in the car! One of my favorite things to do, you know, in the days before you could watch first release movies on a DVD player while Mom went to the grocery store.

Sue Mecklem said...

This is such a wonderful post, Catherine! It's great to have had parents who encouraged us to read, and I'm glad your mom still loves to read. Both my parents encouraged me to read and I'm forever grateful for that.

My dad has been my inspiration for traveling since I was a child. We moved a few times when I was little, and his enthusiasm for a new place was contagious. Whenever he went on business trips, he'd bring us kids a present, and sent us many postcards over the years. I was curious about all the wonderful places he went, and loved geographay even in the 4th grade.

He took the whole family to Mexico when I was 12 - what a great experience. My mom was afraid we'd be kidnapped but my dad was the voice of reason, and we had a great time.

I majored in geography in college because of his influence. He truly believes that we can all learn from traveling - he paid for my son to live in Italy on an exchange program for months. He's happily retired in Mexico City and loves it!

Sarah Mac said...

I love to read in bed before going to sleep although there have been many occasions when I've got so lost in a book that I carry on reading when I'm more than half asleep.

Galit Breen said...

I love that your mom inspired you, defended you, advocated for you.

I also love that this all revolved around books and came full circle when you became a librarian!


Niki Hudson said...

Beautiful! English majors unite! :)
This is the very reason I became an English teacher - to foster a love for reading in others, a priceless gift to pass along to the next generation.

Catherine said...

I love hearing from book lovers! Aren't they wonderful friends?

@Niki- I had forgotten that you teach English! God bless you for trying to keep this generation interested in the printed word. I think it must be getting harder and harder.

julie moore said...

It's so wonderful that it was your mom who planted such a worthy love in your soul. Loved your post.

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