Penny’s Not Allowed To Be An Avid ReaderAugust 26, 2009
And I’m sure every parent is looking at me in horror with that statement out in the open. Don’t get me wrong, I want Penny to read. I want her to share my love of books and enjoy reading just about anything.
For the record, I have only put down 3 books in my life: Interview with a Vampire – apparently written at a grade 12 level and I’m too stupid for that; Lord of the Rings – tried to start on the 2nd book after watching the 1st movie, should have known better; and Princess of Burundi – ridiculously slow crime novel from Scandinavia or somewhere like that. If I crack it open, I read it.
In grade 5 I had to answer a survey for my new teacher so she could find out more about me. One of the questions was how many books I read in a year, with the options of 0, 1-2, 3-4 or 5+. At that time, I scoffed at the survey. I was reading 5+ in a month! Fortunately for me, my dad works at a book and magazine distribution company and I had pretty much unlimited access to books. I still read alot, spending probably $400-$500 a year at Chapters (I’ve reformed – I have a library card now). Since Penny’s been born though, my book stack is growing and I’m not getting much reading done. I’ve actually only finished one book, and am about 3/4 through a second.
But back to the purpose of this post. I read alot. I read alot now, as an adult, and just as avidly as a teen and as a child. This was not a good thing! I read to the detriment of my social life. I remember my dad throwing me outside and telling me not to come back for X number of hours. I would ride my bike aimlessly around the neighbourhood, maybe go sit on a swing for a few minutes, and go home again. Now all of 32 minutes have passed since I was tossed out, yet I start begging to come inside again. All I wanted to do was read! I would read past my bedtime – aka after I was sent to bed and having a light on would get me caught.
I would read until there was no longer enough light coming in my window to see the words on the pages. Hence the reason I wear glasses now. Oh yeah, and I read for so long that I go cross-eyed and put strain on my eyes. The doctor has told me I need to look up every 15 minutes or so to refocus my eyes.
I remember doing a group book report project in grade 6, where we needed to read the book as a group in class, then do some sort of big report project after. We weren’t supposed to read any of the book at home. I took my book home the first night and read the whole thing. I got in alot of trouble for that. I ended up doing a project on my own, on the book “Where the Red Fern Grows” which, to be honest, was exactly what I wanted.
Are you seeing the trend here? Nicole sits in the corner with her book, and avoids all contact with other human beings, cringing away if one passes too closely. I have trouble making friends now. I am completely comfortable with kids and usually teens. I’m great with older people. But I can’t carry on a conversation with people my age. I can’t walk up to them and say hi and introduce myself. Well, I can’t do any of this in person. Put a computer screen in between, and presto-chango I’m a whole new person!
I can look back now and see that the number of books I read isn’t a good thing. I chose to spend my time with my nose in a book, exploring worlds that aren’t my own. I could get lost for days in worlds of fantasy, particularly on Pern with dragons filling the skies. I could back then, and I still can now, albeit with books that are 3 times as thick and cost much more. Reading that much is not healthy, and needs to be balanced with other equally important parts of life. I didn’t learn this before, and I pay for it now with a few friends instead of many (and not all of them quality friends yet), shyness around my contemporaries, and ultimately that all contributes to low self esteem and depression.
In the last few years I have realized how much my reading affected who I am, and because of that, I don’t want Penny to be an avid reader. I want her to love reading, to be able to lose herself in another world. But I want her to be able to pull herself back and enjoy the world she’s in too.