Recently, my friend and coworker Lindsey wrote about why she reads. If you’re so inclined, go read her post here. Anyway, after I finished reading her post, I thought “well, why haven’t I done this yet?” So for your reading pleasure, I now present my history as a reader.
I was lucky. I was raised by my aunt and grandma, and both of them fostered in me a love for books. One of the earliest home videos we have is of the Christmas right after I turned 1 (I was born December 6). It shows a baby version of me raptly adoring the new board book I had just opened. The next shot is someone trying to put the book to the side so that I can open another gift. Then baby Jancee cries, the camera goes off, and a few minutes later is turned back on – and there’s baby Jancee happily holding the precious book.
My grandma must have spent a ton of money buying me books. I had them all – Little Golden Books, Berenstain Bears, Little Critter. And later on, Boxcar Children, Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, Goosebumps, Mary Kate and Ashley, Sweet Valley High. Great illustrated classics, Wishbone classics, pretty much anything I could want or think of. She also instilled in me a love for libraries. Every week my library had a story hour program for kids. And every week, I was there. Sometimes twice, if I really enjoyed the program or had finished my whole stack of checked out books in one evening. It happened. Whatever the source of my books though, my grandma was faithful in reading to me every single night. There was never a time in my life when I wasn’t surrounded by books, when I didn’t love books.
The first book I read completely by myself out loud to my kindergarten class was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. Since then, I’ve read thousands upon thousands of books. I’m thoroughly hooked. And now that I’m older, I’ve had a lot of time to think about why I love books. So here are just a few of the reasons I read.
1. To escape. When my life falls apart or just feels incredibly stressful, I can tune out my own problems by spending some time in a great book. I can adventure through new worlds, fall in love, save the universe. And reading gives me confidence, so when I do come back to the real world, I feel like I can tackle my own problems.
2. To learn. Regardless of what I’m reading, I’m sure to learn something. Whether it be an important biography, impressive classic, or straight up YA fiction novel, I usually take away something from whatever I read. Time and time again, we hear that reading is linked to academic success in other areas. So true. Reading helps one think critically, solve problems, absorb cultural knowledge and more. It’s important, people.
3. Professionally. Even though I’m not working in my area of specialization, I still want to be prepped and ready for a future job in which I might be. When I got my library science degree, I specialized in YA and children’s lit. Currently, I am an academic librarian. So I read as much as possible to stay aware of trends and to gain knowledge in my area.
4. For enjoyment. Even when I’m not intentionally trying to escape or learn or read professionally, you will still find me with a book in hand and at least two in my backpack. It’s just fun. Other people watch TV or play sports or go hiking. I read. It’s my thing. I read in bed, on work breaks, at the dinner table. I get depressed sometimes because I can’t read all the books NOW.
Friends, what’s your story? Why do you read?