Friday, March 03, 2006

I'll Bet You Five Bucks that Nurture Kicks Nature's Butt

So last week at the park, we met a vey nice woman and her granddaughter, who is only six months older than Mr. Personality. All four of us got along smashingly together, and we found ourselves talking about all sorts of personal issues after knowing each other for all of ten minutes.

I don't know how we got on the subject of reading, perhaps because the park is directly across the street from the library. It turns out that she is an avid reader, and even though I used to be a bit more avid, we had a shared love of books.

Isn't it amazing how much you feel you have in common with a fellow reader?

We discussed some of our favorite literature, with the choices being fairly different as there is probably at least a twenty year difference in our ages.

Then she made an offhand comment that two out of her three children did not grow up to be readers. I expressed surprise, and she ventured the theory that it was sort of an inborn thing. Either you liked to read from the get-go, or else it wasn't your thing.

Ahhhh, the classic nature vs. nurture scenario.

Am I just one lucky gal that Mr. Personality loves books? He is already sight-reading probably over 50 words, and is wonderful at phonically sounding them out with me. I'm going to brag here a bit, because I really try not to, but I am so thrilled with his ability. A few weeks ago, my sister and I took him with us out to dinner. My sister lives near the ocean, and on the way there, Mr. Personality cried out from the back seat, "Beach! Beach, Mama!" I replied that yes, Auntie does indeed live by the beach, but that the ocean was not in sight. "Look, Mama, look!" And sure enough, there was a billboard with, you guessed it. Perhaps I'm just easily impressed.

Was he just born with this innate love of books, or could it have anything to do with the fact that I have read to him since the first week of his birth? Or that he sees Hubba-hubba and I reading all the time? Reading to him is a chance to faux-cuddle for him (cuddling without really admitting that he is) and we read at least six books a day, as well as going to the library every week.

Since I don't have another child, I can't say that I followed the exact same procedure with #2, and if the result was any different.

I say it is a combination of both, but I'll give nuture odds of 70% and nature 30%.

*I seem to be getting my own butt kicked, (albeit in such a nice way that it doesn't even hurt!) so I will bow to the wisdom of others and put the odds inversely, nurture 30%, nature 70%.


Anvilcloud said...

They are both incredibly powerful. I read to two daughters. One took to reading; the other struggled. Oddly enough, the one who struggled probably showed more early motivation.

Mel said...

Well, I have adopted twins and two other biological children. I might have sided with you in my pre-parenting days. I thought everything was all about nurture. Now, I think it's more like 80% nature, 20% nurture in almost all areas.

Seriously. I bet you $5, absolutely.

(By the way, I am very impressed by his reading. That's amazing!)

WordsRock said...

I'd like to think I helped my son develop his adoration of books by reading to him from the get-go and introducing him to all kinds of literature. Reading time has always been a sacred, ritualistic joy in our home. After all, it's not really goofing off if you're laying around enriching your mind with a book. ;)

But I think love of reading is in the blood, a strong genetic trait. Always good to feed it though, no matter what.


Elizabeth said...

I think it's mostly nature also. The nurture part is you steering the nature part. If Mr. P was more into art than reading you'd be steering him in that direction, yes? And you might think your steering is what's driving him but he's got his own engine, you're just showing him the way.

When you have your second child, you'll see how the nature part is bigger than the nurture because your second child will be completely different than your first. My mother was constantly amazed at how different all four of her children were.

Suzanne said...

Mr. P is amazing!

Both my kids love books, and will spend long periods paging through them (in addition to long periods having me read to them). As yet, though, Sean doesn't recognize any words. I wonder if this interest will wane as they get older and acquire the ability to read on their own. I hope not!

Heather said...

Well, I have Julie who read ALL of the Harry Potter books before she turned 8 (she's on the second time around now) and Nikki who only reads once in awhile (I haven't given up hope yet, but she's not as avid as her sister). So far, Maddie showing some interest, but mostly she likes going to story time at the library because she's such a social butterfly :-) They're all really different, which makes me lean toward the nature thing. Though I'm sure nurture helps.

Piece of Work said...

I have no doubt that all your reading with Mr. P has had an affect on him and his reading abilities. By the way, that is TRULY amazing. Mr. P is three? or four?
I have always been a big reader, and my sister, to a slightly lesser degree. My brother, however, would never EVER pick up a book to read just for the hell of it.
My own kids are still young, but already Vivian has shown a much greater interest in books than Isaac, although this could just be a manifestation of the personality quick which makes it impossible for Isaac to sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time.

Still, had you not ever read to Mr. P, I doubt he would be sight reading already!

J said...

I'm thinking you're right, and it's a combo...we love to read, and our daughter loves to read. But I loved math, too, and she's not so happy about that. Some of their accomplishments are due to your genes, some to your raising of them, and some, just who they are, and that's the hardest to get your head around. At least, it was for me.

Liz said...

I am a believer in birth order making a difference in addition to the nature vs. nurture argument. My oldest is almost 17 and she's always loved books. From being read to, to learning to read, she still always has a book going. My youngest, at 13, still prefers to be read to. My husband read all the Harry Potter books to her out loud at bed time. She seems to retain them better when she is read to, than if she reads them herself.

I think we just have more time with the first borns. More time to nurture what they enjoy, naturally.

dinodoc said...

Despite Mel's evidence to the contrary, I say (statistically, at least)it's 50-50.