Are Readers Born or Bred?
While in college, I took a number of children’s literacy classes as part of the requirements in the Education and Reading Specialist programs. A long-standing debate in those fields is whether or not readers are born or shaped by their environment–an argument that harkens back to the nature versus nurture argument. What role does environment and heredity play in the life of a bookworm?
My parents are avid readers and were constantly reading as my younger sister and I were growing up. There were lots of books in our house and Dad took us on weekly trips to the library. He read to us each night from one of our many favorites–a few I own to this day! (see pic below.) Reading to your children is supposed to be a sure-fire way to get them interested in reading.
At age 8, I started reading independently. I tackled small chapter books and by the time my teen years rolled around, I was reading magazines, newspapers, and about five books a week from the library.
My sister, who is 2 1/2 years younger, never picked up a book except for a brief stint with the RL Stine Goosebumps series. Today, if she reads 4 books a year, it’s a big deal. I managed to get her hooked on Twilight and the Kay Scarpetta series, but as a rule, she doesn’t read.
It seems perplexing that the two of us are such opposites when it comes to reading despite growing up in the same environment and sharing much of the same genetic makeup.
And so, on to you. Are you the lone reader in your house? Do you think that reading to your children (or being read to as a child) can shape literary preferences and predilections? Let’s psychoanalyze this together…