Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cereal Boxes

For many years, I described my indiscriminate reading habits by telling friends, "I read everything, even cereal boxes!" Then last week, I read about someone attributing cereal boxes to how she started to love reading. My eureka moment: (1) there are millions of kids reading all five sides of a cereal box, often morning after morning (those sugar-coated cereal makers were doing something right!), and (2) love of reading starts at a young age.

I immigrated to Vancouver, Canada with my family a few months before my 7th birthday and started school in an English as a Second Language program. I don't remember my parents reading anything other than Chinese-language newspapers and we didn't have any bookshelves in our home until I was in senior high school.

So where did my love of reading start? Public libraries, and I have to thank my parents for encouraging my reading habit, inadvertently perhaps. Both parents worked during the week, and most retail shops were closed on Sundays back in those days. So every Saturday afternoon, my parents would drop my brother and me off at whichever public library was nearest to where they were planning to shop, and pick us up hours later, after they had finished their errands.

In those early years, I remember reading books only while at the library and participating in the librarian's circle time reading. By the time I reached the age of 9 or 10, an afternoon at the library always ended with struggling to decide which books to take home, within my borrowing limit.


To this day, I love to look at shelves and shelves of books (including those in the beautiful photography of Libraries by Candida Hofer) as well as appreciate the beauty of the book as a physical object.

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