Like most writers I know, I was a total bookworm (and nerd) as a child. We’re talking the kind of real cool kid who hid the book I was reading inside my textbook to read covertly during class. That’s right ― I put another book inside my book.
This is me ... there, in the corner, with my face totally buried in a book.
So far my kid is really good-looking and popular and athletic, which means I can’t relate to him at all. And he likes books OK, but I don’t think he’s going to be the kid checking out 20 books at once from the library like I was.
So I mined my own memories and reached out to other bookworm kids to compile a list of what you can expect if you do find yourself with a bookworm for a child. Oh, and I asked my mom:
1. They may prefer reading to playing outside.
I spent enough recesses sitting against the wall reading a book that my teachers actually started forcing me to play instead of read on the playground. I wasn’t anti-social, and I had friends ― I just wanted to use my free time to do my favorite thing in the world: read a book.
Claire Beau told The Huffington Post, “I moved around a lot as a kid and I would read alone at recess...if kids tried to talk to me I would literally hide behind the book, so, social skills were lacking ... Also my athletic outdoor kid sister resented me for never wanting to play with her.”
2. The book fair and Scholastic newsletters may be the highlight of their lives.
The most wonderful time of the year was the school book fair! And I always came home with my Scholastic booklet all marked up with things I wanted my parents to order me. And the day the books actually came in was pure ecstasy — almost as good as buying new school supplies.
3. They’re probably going to walk into things while reading.
Ah, reading and walking ― the true mark of a bookworm. You can recognize a true book-lover by the trail of bruises on their shins from running into things while reading.
Sydney Ray Levin told HuffPost, “I used to read as I walked the dog. Neighbors would call my mom and say they were concerned, and her reply would be ‘Why, is she reading a bad book?’”
4. Their sense of direction may suffer.
By the time I started driving at 16, I realized I had no idea how to get anywhere because I’d spent my formative years with my nose buried in a book every time I was riding in a car. I never looked up and paid attention to where I was going.
5. So many broken bags.
I can vividly remember the plastic bags with a draw cord my local library sold at the front desk to carry your books. The designs would switch out in case you needed to replace them frequently, as I did, because I was always straining and breaking them with the weight of approximately ONE MILLION books.
“I remember carrying around so many of my precious library books in my backpack that I broke it. Twice,” Louise Hung told HuffPost.
6. They may sometimes feel isolated from their peers.
When you read a lot, you learn about a lot of things that other kids your age might not know about. Bookworm kids may also end up on a different level than their peers in the classroom.
Lesley Kinzel told The Huffington Post, “By the time I was in third grade, I had outpaced even the fifth grade reading lessons so they just sent me to the library to read whatever I wanted while the other kids were doing dumb comprehension workbook exercises. I remember there being a lot of concerned discussion about whether it was ‘isolating’ me and even then thinking to myself, ‘What no I’m fine just leave me in the library all day if you want to!’”
7. They may not mind being alone.
“Being a bookworm kid I was really comfortable with being alone and in my head for long stretches of time. Almost to a point where it was troubling to people. I would also find silent places to hide so I could read in peace,” said Louise Hung.
Being alone may feel natural to kids who love to read because they’re never truly alone; they’re accompanied by the characters and stories from their favorite books.
8. Their test scores will benefit.
I was always a good test-taker and I know my voracious reading as a kid contributed to my ability to ace those vocabulary, reading comprehension and writing sections.
As Allan Mott told The Huffington Post, “At a certain point you have to get used to other kids not knowing things you’ve taken to consider common knowledge. Like when you’re studying history in class and already know who the axis and allies were during WWII. Also, you’ve heard of WWII.”
9. Practical things may take a backseat to fantasy.
Whether I was physically reading or not, my head was always at least partially in my current book. That made the day-to-day realities of, say, “remembering to take my backpack” to school a little harder to focus on. I was always waiting to get back to my story instead of focusing on what was in front of me.
10. They may have to convince people they’re really reading that book.
Yep, I’m really reading “Little Women,” third grade teacher, not just carrying it around for show.
11. Some of their pronunciations may be ... creative.
As Carina Kolodny, and editor here at HuffPost, said, “I knew words and their meaning well before I knew how to pronounce them.” Encountering so many grown-up words that you’ve never heard in conversation can lead to some embarrassment when you try to use them and totally bungle the pronunciation. I remember this happening with “prejudice” and “ennui” as a youngster.
12. You’ll catch them reading at weird hours.
In addition to reading in class, every bookworm kid knows the flashlight-under-the covers trick.
Audacia Ray told The Huffington Post, “As a kid I was often tired at school because I would stay up past by bedtime reading beyond my grade level. Related: one time I torched a hole in my comforter with a flashlight due to reading under the covers.”
Do your kids love to read? Did you? What other common experiences do you share?