WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST READING MEMORY?

Posted by Jacob Thompson on

Many of us enjoyed story time events at libraries, daycare, and school growing up, but who remembers those moments? Maybe you recall a caregiver reading bedtime stories while you cuddled your favorite stuffed animal, listening to the adventures of the three pigs in “The Three Little Pigs.” Maybe your first-grade teacher read from My Father’s Dragon throughout weeks during circle time. Maybe the first time you remember someone reading to you was your best friend at college, who shared their favorite poems with you on perfect fall days on the quad. Or maybe your earliest memory of interacting with printed material was reading yourself! Whatever it was, it was certainly a magical time.

My parents both read to me frequently growing up, particularly at bedtime. Dad incorporated his own sound effects—in which I could choose to participate—into the Disney Little Golden Book edition of The Three Little Pigs. Mom favored 365 Bedtime Stories by Nan Gilbert, a copy of which I believe still sits in my parents' house, flaking and falling apart, but still beloved. Now, my parents read to their grandchildren regularly, and I’ve developed a love of books over the years and become a children’s librarian, where I read at regular storytimes every week.

The first specific moment I recall, however, being read to was an instance when my dad decided to introduce my sister and me to The Hobbit. The two of us lay on my parents’ bedroom floor at the foot of their bed, while Dad opened the novel from his side of the bed, his nightstand light on in addition to the overhead light with the fan. Bethany and I lay quietly with our hands clasped under our heads while Dad painted pictures with his voice and Tolkien’s words. Of course, The Hobbit is not well-suited to reading aloud. Tolkien’s winding and long sentence structure can make for a tough follow-along, but it wasn’t about the story or the words—it was about spending time with my family, and a moment of my dad that I’ll remember and cherish forever.

There’s no doubt that reading and reading to children is paramount to their development, both cognitive and emotional. And while many of us were read to as children for the first time, some of us were adults when we first remember a significant moment of written words being read to us.

Please share your earliest reading memories.

 

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