Is This How Writers Are Born?

Zayla 1 (2)

My 23-month-old daughter (Z.) has loved books for as long as she has been aware of them. Her older sisters also enjoy reading, but, unlike Z., they have always been equally happy to participate in other activities. Z. likes art and puzzles, too, but nothing delights her more than a book.

Zayla 3

Z. has listened to stories since birth, and while her early smiles and movements during story time were probably nothing more than an indication of gas, I prefer to think of it as the beginning of a life-long love affair with books. Unsurprisingly, “book” was one of her first words.

I am convinced Z. learned to run solely to chase her father and me around the house with a book or two in her arms. It’s adorable, but I’m afraid to admit, it’s also a little frustrating. We never want to dissuade her from reading, but sometimes we have to spend time addressing other matters in life.

One day, after telling my colleagues about Z.’s obsession with books, one of them remarked, “I wonder if that’s how writers are born,” always with a book in their hands, first ones written by others and eventually ones written by their own fingertips.

I guess so, if writers own reflections of their youth are any indication:

  • Harper Lee: “Do you remember when you learned to read, or like me, can you not even remember a time when you didn’t know how?” (Letters of Note)
  • Ray Bradbury: “I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt.” (Paris Review)
  • Kurt Vonnegut: In response to the question, “So you’ve always been a reader?,” he replies, “Yes. I grew up in a house crammed with books.” (Paris Review)
  • Jonathan Franzen: “I’d read a lot as a kid — eight hours a day all summer, some summers—but it was ­mostly mysteries and popular science and science fiction.” (Paris Review)
  • Toni Morrison: In response to the question, “Did you know as a child you wanted to a writer?,” she replies, “No. I wanted to be a reader. I thought everything that needed to be written had already been written or would be. I only wrote the first book because I thought it wasn’t there, and I wanted to read it when I got through. I am a pretty good reader. I love it. It is what I do, really. So, if I can read it, that is the highest compliment I can think of.”  (Paris Review)

Maybe Z. will fancy herself a writer someday. Either way, I hope she’ll always love books as much as she loves them now.

*On a side note, it’s the first day of Spring (where I live) and my birthday! I also want to wish a very happy birthday to Fransi and Victoria, who are both readers and writers with excellent blogs.

Thank you for the birthday wishes! We had a lovely day at Longwood Gardens.
Thank you for the birthday wishes! We had a lovely day at Longwood Gardens.

45 thoughts on “Is This How Writers Are Born?

  1. L.W.

    Happy belated birthday! What a great post! I will be very interested to know if your daughter decides to be a writer!

    1. Thank you! The posts about my kids are my favorite ones to write. It’s fascinating to watch my girls’ literary tastes develop. We’ll see if their love of reading translates into a love of writing!

  2. Pingback: AFB: The Misfortune of Knowing | Lit and Scribbles with Jae

  3. Happy birthday! As always, your girls are beautiful. And at the very least, I think it’s safe to say your little one will grow up with an appreciation for books, which is WONDERFUL. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Donna! I had a lovely birthday. We went to Longwood Gardens and enjoyed the orchid exhibit. I am happy to share my birthday with the sparrows (I saw more hawks than sparrows today, though). Thank you for your informative posts on them!

  4. Happy birthday AMB – I’m bowled over by those big brown eyes – not yours 🙂 One day you’ll blink and your daughter will be off playing soccer or driving too fast – treasure these years.

  5. Happy Birthday!! Zayla is such a darling! (I love the tie-dye t-shirt too, it reminds me of all the years I made 25 of them with my 3rd grade classes! The memories might be a little better than the actual experience 🙂 )

  6. Such a cutie pie. And Happy Birthday! Hope you do something fabulous. I really hope whenever I have kids that they’re big readers. Obviously I’ll have lots of books around. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with example. I just loved reading with my mom, so I hope I can share the same experience. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jae! I had a really nice day. I took the day off and spent it at Longwood Gardens with my family. We saw a spectacular orchid exhibit.

      I’m thrilled that my girls are interested in books. I think it helps to have lots of books around the house. That’s one of my concerns about my transition to ebooks. My kids see that I have my Kindle in my hands, but I’m not sure they equate the Kindle with books. We have lots of children’s books with traditional “soft pages” (to quote Harper Lee, same letter linked above). Those are the books that count in their minds. They enjoy listening to the books on their iPad, but they don’t think that counts at story time.

      1. Hmmm… strange new world we live in. I’d never thought about kids having to take an interest in books in a new way. You’ll have to post in the future about how the transition works.

  7. Happy birthday! After spending so much time reading to my oldest daughter, I now sometimes have a hard time finding her as she doesn’t hear me calling her when she has her nose in a book. 🙂 I love that she and I can share our love of books, though.

  8. fransiweinstein

    Thanks! And happy birthday to you. I have loved reading since I was a toddler. Like your daughter I was always handing books to my parents so they’d read to me. As soon as I could read on my own, that was it! I always had one in my hands.

    1. I hope you’ve had a lovely day, Fransi! I took the day off from work and spent it with my family at Longwood Gardens. I’m not surprised that you’ve been a reader/writer all your life.

      1. fransiweinstein

        Thanks. I have had a lovely day. And it sounds like you did, as well. As it should be! Here’s to many, many more.

  9. I grew up reading. My parents did not read to me, so I’m not sure how the habit was started, but I’m with Harper Lee. Not only did I get yelled at for always having a nose in a book, but I remember my father berating me for writing while I scribbled at the kitchen table around age 12. I persevered though. On family car trips when I was young and given money to spend at the tourist trap, I always chose a book. I turned out just fine.

    Happy birthday!

    1. Thank you for the birthday wish! Being a reader/writer is in your nature. I’m impressed by people who love books even when they weren’t encouraged to read.

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