How exactly does one become a reader?
Some people are born into reading families, yet resist the temptation of literature all their lives. And some people grow up in houses with no books, but for this reason or another develop a passion for reading. Sometimes it comes and goes. I know people who read a lot when they were children but abandoned books together with their childhood toys. And there are people who don't discover literature until they are well into their twenties or thirties (or like the Queen in 'The Uncommon Reader' even their eighties).
It does seem like a phenomenon which doesn't follow patterns and, in the end, eludes explanation. Let me tell how it happened for me.
As you might or might not know, I was born sometime in the 80's in communist Poland which didn't offer all that much in terms of entertainment (unless you are into conspiring against the government). On top of that, when I was four my mum got pregnant again and took a 3 year maternity leave which at that time meant I could no longer attend kindergarten, so books must've seemed like the only cure for boredom. The beginnings of my reading adventures have not been recorded in my memory but I am told I demanded to be read to constantly, more than anyone had time for. My first reads were books from 'Poczytaj mi mamo' series which translates to 'Read to me, mum'. The back covers looked like this:
And here are some of the front covers which particularly stuck in my memory:
My favourite one was The Red Riding Hood (unfortunately I can't find the cover in the whole World Wide Web but I believe it was green) and I am rumoured to have taught myself to read using that book. Yes, apparently I learnt to read it almost entirely by myself. I am not sure how exactly I achieved it but my parents swore they never actively tried to teach me, they just answered my random questions every now and then ('Mum, what's this letter?').
It was always my dad who was into literature and was over the moon to discover he fathered such a prodigy. My mother, as a mathematician and proto-IT person, always preferred numbers to letters, and therefore found it fit to teach me binary numeral system when I was about five. Since then, having proven to be a genius, I was left to my own devices, which basically meant I was left alone to read. I very soon ran out of books to read at home and my mum took me to the library where she registered me and informed the astonished librarian I would be coming here by myself, probably everyday.
This is the first book I have ever taken out from the library. It was a story about Mouse Pik.
It is amazing how all these books and their covers are so clear in my memory. I was sure that once I google them it would turn out that those books didn't exist or looked nothing like I remembered them. But here they are, just as they have been in my head throughout all these years. 'Myszka Pik' made such an impression on me that the first in a series of hamsters our family owned was named Pik by me.
And this is how my journey began. Stay tuned if you want to know what happened next, and how I disappointed my parents by not turning out to be a genius after all.
THIS JUST IN:
I have found the cover of the legendary Red Riding Hood! It IS green.
And how did you become a reader?