I Got The Message Loud & Clear: Reading Isn’t Cool.

Mostly my family and friends are very supportive of my love for reading even if they don’t altogether get it. As a child I was just as much of a voracious reader but honestly there’s always been this underlying “poking fun” with some of my extended family and it just makes me cringe when I think of it.

Even today as an adult I get these comments from them “reminiscing” about my childhood reading tendencies and while, I’m not super upset by them, they just get under my skin. As a kid, they made me feel bad too. And that makes me sad because why should a kid feel bad about reading??

There was, even now, these comments about how I was the lazy one out of my sister and I because I would rather sit and read.

And I just think there is something wrong with making a kid feel like they are lazy because their hobby of choice happens to be one that includes sitting (I mean, yes sure my butt hurts from all sitting I do while reading). I played outside and was VERY active as a kid but I always had a book with me no matter where I went as I do now (especially when I had to visit their homes) and would prefer reading to anything. But just because I was reading was not because I am lazy. There were many times where I felt like I should be “more active” like my sister because of their comments and I felt this shame that, because I liked reading, I must be lazy. I was at my baby sister’s graduation two years ago and one of them was telling Will ALL about how they could never get me up to bake cookies with them like my sister would because I was soooo lazy and would just sit there with my book. Insert questions if I’m still just as lazy. (Spoiler alert: I AM AND I LOVE IT. IF YOU CALL IT LAZY, I DON’T CARE).

There were so many comments about how I was “quiet as a mouse” with my nose in a book all the time and the way they said it it never sounded like a good thing in comparison to how my sister was.

This would happen when they were talking to their Bingo friends or introducing me to someone. “Oh this one you’d never know she’s there because she’s always reading.” “She’s so shy and quiet” or if I was reading after a long visit at my grandma’s house I would hear comments about how I should be more social LIKE MY SISTER. It always made me feel like I was this strange mutant. Also, it’s a big pet peeve of mine to assume because I like to read that I am automatically socially awkward or quiet. I AM QUIET BECAUSE I AM READING. Even as an adult I think they still assume I’m this quiet little mouse which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve never been that. It always made me feel like I was not as fun as my sister.

“If you are that bored I can find you something to do”

I AM NOT READING BECAUSE I AM BORED, PEOPLE. I do not need a hobby as they always would try to suggest.

“She’s in her own world.”

Nah. I can hear you talking about me. But really this world I’m in right now is better than the one where I have to listen to you talk about your Bingo drama or talk about what a bump on a log I am because I like reading more than I like watching your soap operas.

These are just a few of the comments I would get frequently. I’m sure my extended family wasn’t TRYING to be cruel or anything but even now they speak about me in a way that I don’t like and as a kid it made me feel really bad about myself. Like I should be ashamed to be a reader because it was lazy or because I wasn’t as FUN and SOCIAL as my sister (which was not at ALL true). It stuck with me when I became a pre-teen (which is what I think was part of this HUGE gap of my reading history) because I thought boys wouldn’t like me if I was bookish and that people would think I was a “loser” for liking books. Being a bookworm wasn’t something that sounded very cool to my extended family so it probably wouldn’t be very cool to all the boys I was trying to chase and the new friends I wanted to make.

Being a bookworm held such negative connotations and even more so in middle school and high school where so many kids would proclaim how boring and uncool they thought reading was. So I stuffed that part of myself down very far for a long time and it took until the end of high school for me to start being open about it again. But even then I was all “Oh I read Jack Kerouac and Sylvia Plath (which I truly loved) but it made me feel like I was COOL and INSIGHTFUL in a way that admitting I read the latest Nicholas Sparks wouldn’t.

I got the message loud and clear: READING WASN’T COOL. And that makes me sad that so many kids end up thinking that. Hiding their love for reading like it’s a dirty little secret. Like being a bookworm means something it doesn’t. That’s the beauty about being part of the online reading community…you see we bookworms come in MANY MANY varieties. We don’t all share the same characteristics. Being a reader does not mean you are ONE CERTAIN WAY. Being a reader isn’t something to be ashamed of it and I’m not quite sure how it ever got to be looked upon in that way.

I love being a reader and I am proud of it being a part of who I am!

Let’s talk: Has anybody in your life ever made you feel bad about being a reader? When you were younger did you get the message that reading wasn’t “cool”? Did it impact you?
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