The Clever Trick My Dad Used To Turn Me Into A Rabid Reader At 8 Years Old

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I had a problem getting into reading when I was 8. My father was a rather insightful teacher (of college kids by day and 8-year olds by night). He solved the problem this way.

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I wasn’t even aware he was trying to get me to read. But I put it all together years after the fact.

Once a week, a library book would just appear in my room. They were of all different genres, some written for kids, some not. I can’t tell you more because I didn’t read them. I felt no pressure to. I just got used to them appearing (kids just accept their environment.)

He kept at it. And kept at it. Week after week. Month after month. He only ever said, “Just give it a look.”

Until finally, he struck. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. I came downstairs excitedly babbling about a closet that led to a snowy kingdom.The Lion, The Witch, And The WardrobeMy Dad didn’t praise me. He received the news with feigned distraction. He got up and as he was walking out said, “When you get to Aslan, keep in mind that C.S. Lewis is a devout Christian.”
So I finished it. It disappeared and no new book appeared. I asked my Dad, “No book this week?”

“Check your closet. It is a gateway to a magic kingdom.”

The entire Chronicles of Narnia were there as a boxed set. No library stamp, he bought them.

I read the whole thing in a couple of weeks.

Next appeared A Wrinkle In Time. My Dad was figuring out I like classical fantasy.

“Check your closet,” Dad said. “It is a gateway to a magic kingdom.”

As he cast around like this, he hit upon science fiction (Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clarke). He noticed I favored British authors.

He didn’t worry about my 8-year old sensitivities; I read end-of-the-world books like Lucifer’s Hammer and dystopian scifi like Brave New World.

I was reading constantly by 9. By 10, just turn me loose in a bookstore or library and I’d emerge with an armload of books.

Chris Reiss is a software developer living in Salem, MA. He always wanted to be a writer, and Quora provided him a platform and audience for his writings. Chris has worked for the Pentagon during the Cold War, as well as little startups.

 

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