21 Dec 2021

Looking Back – How Reading Became my Favorite Leisure Activity

Reading: My Favorite Pastime

When I was growing up in suburban New York in the 1960’s, my parents took on the typical suburban roles. My father is an MD and commuted to work in the city every day. My mother stayed home and raised my sister and me. While she took on most of the child rearing responsibilities, my father took on story telling and reading. After dinner, he would tell us stories. The one I remember best was ongoing with various chapters on different days. It was about a family who lived in a kingdom, and the children had exciting adventures. The funniest part was that the princess had a mustache and the prince wore a dress!

Our small village did not have a library, but my father took us to a nearby library once a week after dinner. Although the children’s section was closed in the evenings, the librarians took out a large assortment of children’s books for those of us who came in the evenings. We always went home with a handful of books. By the time I was about 11 years old, our village had a small library which I could walk to, and I spent many hours there.

When I was 4 or 5, my father decided to teach me to read. He borrowed Dick and Jane easy readers from a teacher friend, and we read together each night. Eventually, I started reading to my little sister. She liked repetition, and her favorite books were “The Three Bears” and “Curious George goes to the Hospital.” We read the rest of the Curious George books as well.

Reading became my activity of choice when I got home from school. I loved novels, where I could look forward to to what will happen next and get to know the characters. When I got very involved in a book, I brought it to school and read it in between subjects. To this day, I am always reading a novel. I read to relax and right before going to sleep. I enjoy my two book discussion groups.

Because I was always a good reader, I was always a good student as well. Reading is a part of every school subject, including math word problems. It was also easy for me to write and use correct grammar because I was so accustomed to reading.

Most of my life, I have regularly read advice columns. When I was a teenager, it was Dear Abby and Ann Landers, twin sisters who both had syndicated advice columns throughout the country. Now I read Carolyn Hax and Ask Amy in the Washington Post almost every day. Amy publishes one similar column almost every year called “A Book on Every Bed”, which was published today. She advises parents to place a brand new book at the end of the children’s beds at Christmas time, which her mother had done for her. Here is a link to today’s column: Ask Amy: This year, put “A Book on Every Bed”.

Lately, my husband and I have enjoyed TV series on HBO and Netflix. They are fun to look forward to because you get to know the characters over time and look forward to what will happen to them, like a novel. However, when you read, you can imagine the characters and plots, and own the story the way you want it.

Now that the holidays are coming, we all have some extra leisure time. Maybe reading books and listening to recorded books on your holiday travels will be a rewarding way to spend some of this time.

Cheryl Gedzelman, President


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