Sneaky reading

PW ran an interesting piece on the iPad’s potential to bring joy to a whole new audience of readers, through the lens of one twelve-year-old who really discovered reading when the iPad came into her life.  Now there’s surely some takeaway about the future of publishing here, but we’ve touched on that numerous times already.  The thing that caught my attention was the reference to the childhood joy of reading by flashlight.

I can definitely recall giving the old secret reading under the covers thing a shot as a child, though I don’t think it ever really took.  I found it a little hot and claustrophobic, and my prevalent fears of various spooky things were most easily calmed by knowing I could see as much as possible of my room.  I was completely convinced that nothing could ever attack you except from behind, though I’m not sure exactly what I thought I might do if faced with a ghoul of some kind right in front of my face.  I was not, it must be said, a terribly brave child.  Post-nightmare, I usually climbed into my little sister’s bed—always careful to sleep between her and the wall.  I can actually remember trying to rationalize it, possibly even telling her I knew she preferred the outside, but I was more or less hoping that whatever might come to get us would be satisfied with taking just her if she were easier to reach.

I did love a good surreptitious read, though, and frequently stayed up past my bedtime straining my eyes to read by the crack of light coming in from the hall.  Growing up in a 100-year-old house has its drawbacks (read: bats), but also the great benefit of creaky stairs so you can hear your parents coming well before they can see you.  This habit might explain both my adulthood night owl tendencies and my terrible eyesight.

I was also a fan of the other classic kid reading maneuver—pretending to read a school textbook while actually reading a real book.  I was a bit too much of a chicken to try to pull it off most of the time, but my friend Meredith was a master at it.  I’m pretty sure she even defiantly continued after the Great Math Class Romance Novel Incident, when her math teacher completely humiliated her in front of the whole class for some oh-so-scandalous cover.  That story spread throughout middle school pretty fast, much to her dismay.  But still she read.

In retrospect, I doubt my parents were that bothered by my staying up late to read Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Now that I know so many parents, a kid who reads too much seems like the least of one’s worries!  And the idea of middle school gossip about someone reading seems so quaint.

What about you all?  Was secret reading a favorite childhood pastime?  Any tips and tricks for today’s young bookworms?

10 Responses to Sneaky reading

  1. Ciara says:

    This reminds me of when I was a kid and I really wanted to do that, reading under the covers by flash light thing but found it way to uncomfortable and frankly unnecessary. My parents were quite relaxed about letting me read past bedtime, I suppose they too thought a book crazy kid was not the worst thing in the world.

  2. Teri Carter says:

    When I was kid, my mother worked the night shift a lot and I stayed in our apartment alone from age 9 on. So of course I had every light in the house on and read as long as I could stay awake!! Sometimes I stayed with Grandma and she liked to stay up late and watch scary movies — so I could read then, too.

    They all figured if I was reading I wasn’t in trouble, so they liked nothing better than to see me with pile of library books, no matter the content. Now I look back and can’t believe the stuff they let me read.

  3. Julie Nilson says:

    I didn’t use a flashlight under the covers–I just used a mini-flashlight and put it as close to the page as I could so the light wouldn’t “spread.” In retrospect, my parents probably knew (especially since I occasionally fell asleep and then found my book and light left neatly on my desk the next morning), but I’m sure that they were sneaky readers too so they let it go.

    • Lauren says:

      I love the idea of your parents putting the stuff away when they checked on you but never mentioning to you that you could just read if you wanted. It’s so much more fun when you think you’re being clandestine!

  4. Gilbert J. Avila says:

    I’m almost 63 and I still remember reading Edgar Rice Burroughs under the blankets with a flashlight and coming up for air every 15 minutes or so. Good times.

  5. Kurt Hartwig says:

    I rolled up a towel and put it at the base of the door so that my mother couldn’t see the light bleeding through. She saw it was dark and assumed my light was out and I read above the sheets in peace and quiet.

  6. Artemesia says:

    I used to read under the covers by the little red indicator light on my walkman. It only lit up a few words at a time, but it worked. And I wonder why I need glasses now…

  7. Sarah Henson says:

    I did in fact read under the covers with a flashlight. My dad would come in and take the flashlight away, thinking that I would sleep. Instead, I would pull a troll doll out of the pile on the bed. If you pushed his belly button he said something and lit up. I’d put my hand over his speaker and read by his pale green glow until I fell asleep.

    Another favorite was to curl up under my bedside table on top of the air vent in the winter. So warm and cozy!

    • Lauren says:

      I love your commitment, and Artemesia’s above. Reading by walkman indicator light or troll doll glowing stomach is impressive. Kids these days are probably lighting up the pages with the flashlight app on their iPhones–if they’re not playing Angry Birds instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>