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Teach Kids to Read & They’ll Read Something You Don’t Like

my mom with the dog

my mom with the dog

Our local library wouldn’t allow me to check out books from the grown up section until I was 12. The librarian frowned at my grandmother when she realized grandma was checking out the Agatha Christie books on my behalf.

mom reading

mom reading

I read while walking down the school hallways. I kept a book in my lap during class and read when I thought the teacher wouldn’t notice. I read Tess, Bambi, Forever, and Flowers in the Attic. I’d read anything. I liked everything. I had no judgment.

My dad’s second wife complained. “Larry,” she said to my father, “tell her to get her nose out of that book.” And to me my step-sister said, “That’s why boys don’t like you.” I suspected my step-sister was right, but I liked the boys in books better anyway.

What limits were put on your reading? What was the wildest, most daring book you read as a kid? What book shocked you? If you’re a parent now, what reading limits do you put on your own kids? Have you ever wanted a book banned? Why?

When adults try to ban a book, what exactly do you think they are afraid of? I don’t mean what they say they are worried about because that seems like only half the explanation. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve written anything someone would try to ban…how would that feel?

8 thoughts on “Teach Kids to Read & They’ll Read Something You Don’t Like

  1. I have a picture of when I was very very young and i was sitting on my potty reading to my dog… I started reading very young! I had no limits, i did the same thing you did, carried a book everywhere, snuck in reading time when I thought the teacher wasn’t watching, read with a flashlight while hiding in my Humpty Dumpty Toy Box after bed time. I had no limits, luckily my parents allowed my to read whatever peaked my interest! When I would get in trouble of any kind – my mom would take my books away!
    Amazingly, my son is the same way – he devours everything. I pre-read everything he read for the longest time, but now he is 14 and i think he deserves a little bit more freedom to choose his own books. My daughter is beginning to realize that books are way more interesting than real life!
    Thanks for the post! It was great to take that walk down memory lane!
    PS I would never encourage banning books!

    • Always good to hear from someone who supports freedom for books (as I like to think of it). It is also good to hear of a boy who loves to read. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I read Flowers in the Attic as a teenager, but I read My Sweet Audrina by the same author when I was, like, twelve. It may have shaped my love for fuzzy-time stories, opened my eyes to how a book could bend a person’s mind, could trick you and suck you in and spit you out. I haven’t read it since, but I’ve always meant to. I bet it’s a horrible book, but like you, I had no standards back then. The book had a rape scene in it I asked my mom why she threw things at her male cat afterwards, and mom explained it’s because she hated men after one had forced himself upon her. Not, you’re too young for that book, give it here! or any kind of censorship at all. I would not let my child read such books, though I’m not sure it scarred me.

    I also devoured Stephen King early on, and mom may have expressed a tiny bit of concern about those, but she didn’t stop me reading him. I read all the sf books in the school library, esp. the Wrinkle in Time books. My mom had a bunch of sf lying around the house. I read paperbacks while riding my bike around town.

    • My step-mother (at the time) came from a background that was so VC Andrews I would wonder if I was reading her life when I read those books. That woman was crazy. I wouldn’t stop my son from reading those books. Really, can you imagine what would happen if you told your kids to stop reading a book? If you took it away and put it out of reach? They die to read it. Nothing like the power of the prohibited!

      I tried to read Stephen King. But I never have liked horror. Wrinkle in Time was awesome. There is nothing like being able to lose yourself in a book when you’re a kid!

      Wish I’d seen you riding your bike while reading. Fun.

  3. I was like you; I’d read anything. I read this one book — I’ll never remember the title or author now, no way — about giant crabs attacking some beach resort. There was a lot of sex in it, and that’s probably what held my interest as a boy, but the book’s cover got me to read it. (Giant crabs, c’mon.)

    Before that I read a LOT of books by Time/Life. They had a series which covered everything — one volume was called “The Earth”, another “The Ocean”, another “The Mind” — and my parents collected them all. I’d read and re-read them, over and over again, and learned a lot. I was very little, but couldn’t tell you now how old.

    I read so many things, but I can’t really recall any of them. Isn’t that weird? I read everything from Harold Robbins to Stephen King, from non-fiction to children’s books. Anything, everything, all the time. I don’t remember being shocked by anything. Nothing.

    Weird.

    • I had some of those Time/Life books too. I took the one on space to school for a show and tell and I remember getting into a fight with one kid because he insisted that the Earth was not that much smaller than the sun. ha.

      But like you, I can’t remember most of what I read back then. Though I’m sure I didn’t read books about crabs!

  4. I read everything. All the time. I always had a book. At one point I was reading one, two, sometimes even THREE books a day. I don’t remember much of those books, it all blends together, but I’m pretty sure it all went into the soup.

    I was reading adult books very young. I read my moms romances or whatever I could find. I don’t know where I got all my books, because we were poor, and I don’t remember going to the library that much. I did start working at 13, part time, and all my money went to books and candy. (not so different from now.) I learned about sex from books. I learned about space from books. I learned about history. Science. Love. Revenge. All of it.

    JHS was for teen horror and other teen books with edge (go ask alice, anyone?)

    Everyone was worried about me reading too much, and my grandfather used to yell at me for reading. I read under the desk in math class all the time.

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