Becoming A Reader

baby_books_smallI was in Barnes & Noble perusing magazines before drifting into the kid’s section.  A good twenty from the ages of infancy to 4 were sprawled on the floor with their nannies surrounded by books.

You had, of course, the bad nanny zone where they yakked on their phones ignoring their little ones, but quite a few were taking their responsibility seriously.

In one corner, a robust Latino lady was reading The Adventures of Peter Rabbit to a small group starring at her as if she were God.  I meandered over to get a closer look.  One kid in a pair of jeans and a polo shirt drooling all over Ralph’s insignia, kept turning the book to see the pictures.  Atta boy, so what you’re only 3, next year you’ll be reading the Hardy Boys.  Okay, not quite, but this is how you plant roots.  It starts with a pop-up book followed by Dr. Suess with a Babar, Hello Kitty, Ferdinand the Bull chaser.


Besides love and understanding, it’s the greatest gift a parent can give a child.  Looking back, if only I had a set who felt books mattered more than a cocktail shaker.

I have an indelible image of my mother sitting on a kitchen chair in a housecoat eating her half a sandwich for lunch (always half) with one hand, a trashy paperback in the other, its cover so bent back it would no longer close.  I remember a title, Adelaide Unchained.

“Ma, is Adelaide a dog?”

“Never mind now, go play.”

My dad inhaled the Daily News while eating miniature Milky Ways he kept in the freezer, a Micky Spillane standing by.  No wonder I didn’t start reading till I was thirty.  Look at my role models.  And then it was Vogue and an occasional Dominick Dunne.

How shocked to learn Moby Dick wasn’t pornography.

My heart opened watching these kids many cooing over their first book.  Even when one tore a page out and tried to eat it did I approve.  Yes, enthusiasm is what we’re after, even if it means a chapter’s missing.

When asked by Tony the grocer to do him the favor of filling an Easter basket for his 17-month-old granddaughter, along with the king-size chocolate rabbit and a horde of Peeps I tossed in a book, a little light reading called, Some Bunny Loves You.

In the front I wrote – This Book Belongs To Emma.

Wish I was there when she opened it.



About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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28 Responses to Becoming A Reader

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    Great piece, Susannah. My mother often brought me to a tiny little library. While she perused the adult section nearby, I’d set my three allotted books to one side and read as many Madeline and Curious George books as I could before checking out.


  2. “How shocked to learn Moby Dick wasn’t pornography.” That’s my girl. You should be writing for a sit com. Love your humor.


  3. Both my parents were readers. My Dad had a Zane Gray collection and my Mom read a lot of different stuff. I preferred books to kids when I was a kid. Books took you to exotic locations and had interesting characters especially compared to the neighborhood crew.


  4. Lynn says:

    First of all, the picture with the quote at the end of this post just about made me spit my coffee out! Up until that point, I was having a little walk down memory lane as our daughter loved nothing more than to be immersed in her books from the time she was an infant. She was happiest surrounded by her books. She is now 28 and continues to be an avid reader.

    We spent hours reading to our kids. I so agree that reading to your children is a gift. Not only for the simple pleasure of reading, but it is a lovely quiet time spent together, tucked in together sharing stories.


    • That picture got to me too. Isn’t he funny? It’s obvious you are a wonderful Mom Lynn 🙂


      • Lynn says:

        The picture is hysterical Susannah!

        You are very kind my friend. There are days when you feel you are a good Mom & days where you feel like an epic failure. My philosophy is that as long as you provide your children with love & stability, the rest is a big guessing game! Some you win, some you don’t, but in the end, if they have love & stability, in most cases, they do just fine!


      • That sounds like a great intro to a book on child rearing. Stability…now there’s a concept.


  5. Elle Knowles says:

    That reading was instilled in you by your parents even though you don’t recognize it. They did read, only not to you and not what interested you. Loved your question about the dog! So you started late – at least you are reading now! You were a late bloomer!😊 ~Elle


  6. Elle Knowles says:

    And reading makes you want to write!


  7. A love of reading is one of the best gifts you can give a kid. Actually, even though my mom read to us every night, I was a slow reader and didn’t really enjoy reading until my grandmother gave me a book called Lost in the Barrens when I was in Grade 3. After that, I was hooked.


  8. micklively says:

    It is a serious problem you identify and, worst still, it is self-sustaining. Children who don’t read will not rear children to read when they’re adults. Good piece.


  9. Sweet stuff here. Love watching kids with books. I still get a kick out of my oldest sons memories of me reading to him. The first time I read a book to him (by Dell Martin) I read the title and then said by Dell Marrrrtin). Well this became standard after while, until it became expected. But it left my night for reading to him one filled with anticipation (not just because I would read with funny voices), but that no matter who the publisher was, it was going to always be from, Dell Marrrrtin. So much so, that after the title he would join me in saying “by Dell Marrrrtin” and we’d laugh. Reading time was fun, and to this day we still laugh when we talk about this. Reading should always be—so fun.


  10. I remember the 1st time I heard a fairytale in kindergarten. I was hooked. When I asked my mother if she could read a book to me she was … ‘Go look at the pictures’. 😳
    I suppose it creates and addiction to books. I can’t pass a book store without going in. This is a great write on the importance of reading. Loved it …!!! 😎


  11. I always read to my kids, even if I had to chase my son down to do so. Reading was way to stationary for his liking and still his, but my daughter caught the bug. She loved the Madeline series and still has them all.


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