Ellen Byron

My daughter the reader.

I’ve always been an avid reader. I have a small scar on my forehead from where I walked into a tree as a kid while I was deep into a book. When I gave birth to our daughter, I promised myself two things: she would never be a bully and she would always be a reader. These days, the former is easier than the latter, but I’m proud to say that I accomplished both.

We started young. I read to her pretty much out of the womb. She quickly developed her own reading habits. (Sorry about the funky pictures. I had to scan ones that date back sixteen years to pre-cell phone and SIM card days.)

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And of course I introduced her to Nancy Drew as early as possible…

As she grew up, she devoured series like Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. She also became obsessed with Greek myths and Jane Eyre. We set a limit on how many toys she could own. If something new came into the collection, something  else was given away. But that rule didn’t apply to books. To this day, when she asks for a book, be it hardcover, paperback, or e-book, she gets it.

I often worry about the aging of the mystery genre’s readership. Will there be enough future readers to keep it alive and thriving? But readers aren’t born… they’re made. It’s up to one generation of book lovers to beget another.

Little gives me greater joy than seeing my daughter pick up a book. Sometimes we relax on my bed and read together. It wasn’t easy pushing back against the lure of Snapchat and Instagram. But somehow, in the twenty-first century, I managed to create a reader. And I’m damn proud of it.

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Current readers, do you worry about where future readers are coming from?

 

 

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15 thoughts on “My daughter the reader.

  1. I credit my love of reading from my mother, an avid reader who encouraged me to read by buying me every single Nancy Drew book. Children learn from their parents actions. My mom was always happy with her nose in a book. I think there are plenty of younger readers coming up — maybe they are looking for something edgier than a “crafty cozy” but they are out there!

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  2. I so envy you, Ellen. I have three children. I did everything right about good reading habits, and even was their English teacher in high school. Read to them when young, read myself, took them to the library, etc. It didn’t take. Not a one of them reads. Fortunately, their nine children are reading (so far.) I hope it simply skipped a generation. Right now, 7 out of 9 are able to read and are reading. I hope it continues so you’ll see future readers!

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    • Susan, 7 out of 9 is great! And I salute you as an English teacher. I wonder if teachers are a greater influence on readers than parents in some cases. I know I fell in love with classic English literature in 7th grade when I was assigned Dickens to read.

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  3. Ellen, I love seeing your daughter reading Nancy Drew – and Plantation Shudders! My two girls are definite readers (one even had the same reader-meets-telephone pole incident you did) but neither one of them carried my torch for Nancy. One of my biggest parenting regrets.
    As a former children’s librarian and current writer, I do worry about the next generation of readers. A lot of parents simply don’t read. And sometimes, as Susan mentioned, parents can do everything right and it still doesn’t happen. I think kids are lucky when they meet that one book that turns the switch that makes them a reader, the one that makes them understand what all the excitement is about. It’s great when that happens!

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  4. Thanks, Shari. I wonder, once kids outgrow gaming and other entertainment technology, will they discover books – in any form? I know my daughter’s DS and Wii games now gather dust. Well, at least series like the ones I mentioned generated some readers!

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  5. I’ve told this story before, but I think it belongs here. I read to our oldest, and taught him to respect the grown up books on the bookshelves, even where he could reach them. I read to our next child and didn’t police as much, letting him take the books off the shelves, but grabbing them when he started ripping pages out. I read to our third, but didn’t have the time or energy to keep her from ripping up all the books on the bottom shelves. She’s my biggest reader, a bibliophile like me with a house crammed and overflowing with books. The boys do read, but not like her. Although my oldest also writes. She does, too, but I don’t think either one wants to publish anything. They just like to write. So far, the grandkids like reading. I’ve written 2 books for them and am working on a third, since their mom doesn’t think they should read my books. (They ARE too young.)

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  6. Love the pics — looks like Eliza started on Nancy Drew even younger than I did! It makes me happy to see her reading her mom’s book 🙂
    When I visited my sister after Malice, my 21-year-old nephew asked me to sign his copy of my book — and I assumed he was just trying to make his aunt feel good. But later, he talked to me about a scene, character that he especially liked and it tickled me to my toes to know he’d actually read the book! (He is a reader, by the way, but mostly fantasy).

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