Welcome to March is Reading Month at The Hiding Spot!
March is Reading Month has always been one of my favorite times of the year. In elementary school, we did bookish crafts and talked about our favorite books during March, which to this day remains one of my favorite childhood memories. In reflecting on the March is Reading Month celebrations of my childhood, I started thinking about the many experiences throughout my childhood that contributed to my affinity for books and my status as a passionate library card-toting, bookselling reader.
Is it possible for a love of books to begin before a child has entered the world? If yes, I have my mother to thank for that gift. My family never had much disposable income, even when I was the first and only child, but my mother still signed up for the Parents Magazine subscription program that sent books to our home every week. It was through this program that I fell in love with books like Frank Asch's Popcorn, Jerry Smath's But No Elephants, and Robert. Quackenbush's Henry's Awful Mistake. I've kept these books, tucked safely away awaiting the day I can share them with my own children.
Each summer, my three younger siblings and I piled into the car to visit the local library. Here we took part in the Summer Reading Program, sharing book reports and pictures with program volunteers and keeping a record of each book we read. Reading twenty-five books each meant that we were eligible to attend the Summer Reading Carnival at the end of the program, but reading fifty books meant we could play the games at the carnival multiple times! Winning games meant earning "money" that could be spent at the prize table. Sometimes, if we were really lucky, we could combine our winnings and buy a squirt gun or a doll. Years later, as a teen and adult, I volunteered my time to listen to book reports, keep records, and run a carnival game. Let me tell you, those volunteers (out there in the insanely humid Michigan heat during that carnival) are saints! I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunities they provided each summer to young, budding readers like me.
In 5th grade, I read the biggest book in our school library. I remember looking at Little Women sitting there on the shelf for months... maybe even years. I took 546-page tome home on a Friday afternoon, then spent all of Saturday and Sunday immersed in the world of the March sisters. I related to Meg, wished I were more like Jo, cried and cried when Meg died, and loathed Amy. I barely moved from my bed, skipping meals in favor of handfuls of oranges, which we had in spades thanks to a cousin selling them for FFA. When I returned to school on Monday, I nervously logged in to take the Accelerated Reader test, but I shouldn't have worried - I earned a perfect score.
In middle school, I was a student aide in the media center, where I developed a wonderful relationship with the school librarian, Mrs. Connell. It was Mrs. Connell who introduced me to David Eddings' Belgariad, which influenced my reading habits for years. At the end of the school year, she gifted me with my own hardcover copy of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and a journal to keep a record and notes of the books I read. I quickly filled this journal and, unable to purchase another, I traced and copied the pages to paper in a binder to continue journaling. I did this for years, right up until I started The Hiding Spot.
I was immensely lucky to have access to a library and to have adults in my life who encouraged my love of reading. I have so many memories of experiences, both big and small, that helped shape my love of books and reading.
I think it's sometimes easy to forget that even the smallest bit of encouragement can go a long way and that seemingly insignificant experiences can have a huge impact. So, this March, I've invited a number of authors, illustrators, and librarians to The Hiding Spot to share the experiences that helped them grow into readers.
I hope you enjoy the memories and experiences shared within each guest post. I hope they'll prompt you to look back on the experiences that shaped you into a reader. And, most of all, I hope that you'll someday have the opportunity to be the positive force in the life of a budding reader.
Please feel free to share your memories and experiences in the comments section throughout the month!
Day 1: David Arnold
Day 2: Tricia Springstubb
Day 9: Molly B. Burnham
Day 10: Rebecca Behrens
Day 11: Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Day 18: Denis Markell
Day 23: Melanie Conklin
Day 24: Amy Rose Capetta
Day 28: Erin L. Schneider
Day 29: Dahlia Adler
Day 30: Alison Cherry
Day 31: Margie Myers-Culver
Thank you to each and every author, illustrator, librarian who took the time to share their stories and memories!