On my love of reading
Some say the love of reading is something that is innate, while others say that it is something that we acquire throughout our lives, and still others say it is a mixture of both. I am of the opinion that it is a mixture of nature and nurture, and in my own life, nurture played a crucial role. My own love of reading was greatly inspired by the people around me, namely my father, my community, and also my peers.
The person who inspired my reading most was my father. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are of my father’s animated voice filling the room as he gave life to the seemingly inert words on the page and read to his captive audience of two: my brother and I. In these moments, I was transported to a world of imagination and magic. I looked forward to these frequent readings, and I remember the burning desire and determination they inspired in me to someday learn to decipher the jumble of meaningless letters on the page. Once I learned how to read, these continued readings only further deepened my enjoyment of reading.
In addition to my father’s influence, the library summer reading programs added to my appreciation of reading. I found out about the programs, and was encouraged to join them, through my school. I always enjoyed entering into these with my older brother. My brother and I would compete with each other to see who could read the most books during the summer. We would spend many hours of enjoyment in the library, each bent on scouting out the best books, treating it as a kind of reading playground. In this way, the library provided a space in which we could explore and enrich our minds through reading.
Finally, my peers have also influenced my enjoyment of reading. I remember being in the third grade and a boy in my class asking me if I had read the Harry Potter books. Having recently arrived to the U.S. only about six months back from my country of El Salvador, I’d never even heard of them. He was astounded by this and immediately grabbed my arm, walked me over to our class’s bookshelf, and thrust a hardcover copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone into my hands. I was highly amused by how insistent he was in telling me that I absolutely “had to” read up till the last book published, and I was so curious at his insistence that I proceeded to read this mysterious book to see what all the fuss was about. The result was that I instantly became an avid fan, devoured the other books, and, like most of my peers, eagerly awaited the publication of the next book in the series until the very last one was published. In this manner, sharing the love of reading with my peers was something that greatly influenced my own reading habits.
Each experience is unique, but for me, my enthusiasm for reading was mainly impacted by a father whose own enthusiasm for books was conveyed through his animated readings and reading habits. It was also influenced by my community, which gave me a ‘playground’ full of books to play with, and by my peers, who shared their love of good stories with me and thereby enriched my own. Thanks to all these, my appreciation of reading has only deepened throughout my life, and I expect it will only continue to do so as I continue to learn of new ways of understanding, reading, and viewing the world of depth and meaning contained in the written word.