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?