MY two siblings and I felt deprived as we grew up without a television set in our home on Charleston's West Side.
This had nothing to do with family finances.
Our parents actually gave away our set about the time my older sister started school.
They didn't like what they were seeing - the three of us mesmerized in front of what my dad called "the idiot box." We would mindlessly watch show after show and ignore everything around us, including the great treasure that our house did contain.
There were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of books.
There were shelves built by my dad in nearly every room.
On one wall of my bedroom, the books extended from floor to ceiling around two windows. I would fall asleep staring at titles that seem like old friends when I come across them now.
My parents probably read to us when we were very young, although I don't remember that. What I do recall is that it was a reading household.
My mom would go to bed with a book at night. My dad would be at his desk reading into the wee hours, sometimes finishing a book in one sitting.
We kids played outside whenever possible. Otherwise, we read.
Over and over we read children's series like "The Bobbsey Twins," "The Happy Hollisters" and "Nancy Drew." My sister, brother and I weren't even out of elementary school before we tired of those and moved on to grownup books.
My dad would bring sacks of paperbacks home from work. He would buy them new or used or trade with friends. Sometimes we kids would dive into the bag and read books before he did.
I remember when he finally got a turn at "The Green Berets," a Vietnam story with both violence and sex. He wasn't happy to realize his 12-year-old daughter had read it.
Interestingly, even that didn't cause him and my mom to run interference on our choices. They generally let us read anything we could get our hands on. I believe that's why we all did well in school and became lifelong readers.
When I had children of my own, it was a given that books would be a big part of their lives.
My husband and I didn't forgo television, but we tried to de-emphasize it.
One strategy was simply to turn it off when the kids wandered away. That kept the loud commercials from drawing them back.
I read to my toddlers regularly, but I fell into what I now think of as a Berenstein Bear rut. Then I came across a movement I can only describe as life changing.