All readers read, but not everyone who reads is a reader.
No, this isn’t an elocution exercise, and I know you understand it, because you are a reader. But how did you become one?
How does the process work?
Why do some children’s experiences of reading develop into something more: a beloved activity, a means of transportation for the imagination, or an ability that helps quench a thirst for knowledge and provides a way to discover truths, while others remain bystanders?
It seems to me that the making of a reader must pass through a critical transition not unlike the day the training wheels come off of a bicycle. The book that makes a reader is the daunting one, with no illustrations, not a single one, but only tens and hundreds of pages that all look the same and are filled with encoded language. It is the one that the young reader picks off the school or public library shelf and decides to tackle and persists in reading until the moment is reached when the narrative takes over, and the images are provided by the child’s imagination, and there is no longer a boundary between the reader and the story. THAT moment.
Which was the book that helped you to peddle alone?
I know that for my youngest son Christian, now 22, it was the first Harry Potter; the book we read before anyone had heard of it, and more importantly, before my son, who was 8 (the same age as Harry was in The Philosopher’s Stone) and still learning to read in French, could decode English. But while snuggled next to me at day’s end, as I read Harry’s life story to him, the thickness of the book, the walls of his room, and even his resistance to bedtime evaporated, as his eyes scanned the words my voice was narrating. When The Chamber of Secrets came out, he was able to read the entire book alone.
I’m not sure how old I was when I made that leap into becoming a true reader, but I do remember the time of year, and the book. It was summer vacation, I was perhaps twelve or thirteen, and probably a little bored. In those days, there was no Central Pointe-Claire library (but the dinosaurs were already extinct!), and at my mum’s suggestion, I biked over to the Valois library (which was then next to Valois Tennis club) and chose the book she had suggested: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
My whole world changed within the first fifty pages. I was pulled into that mystery and emerged a few days later (at most!), dizzy and dazzled by my first young-adult taste of The Plot Twist. I know that reading that wonderful Agatha Christie novel made me a true reader. From that moment on, I began to see the length of a book as an asset, a feature that guaranteed prolonged pleasure.
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Perhaps I was lucky in my choice, or perhaps I already was a reader. All I know is that of the hundreds of books that I have read since then, I have forgotten much, but the story of Roger Ackroyd’s demise and the identity of his killer remain as sharp as the day I turned the last page.
Which book had the biggest impact on you as a young reader? Leave a comment and let us know!