Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading to me.

I remember cuddling up next to her on her bed with my other siblings as she read our favorite books over and over again. I had them memorized, but it didn’t matter. I was mesmerized by the colorful pictures and captivated by even the simplest stories.

Eventually, I learned to read on my own. I remember being so proud after reading my first book aloud without any help: “Sam Sat.” From that time forward, reading became my go-to activity whenever I had free time. My days were filled with “Junie B. Jones” and “Magic Tree House.” I remember hiding in my closet with a flashlight so I could read past my bedtime or while I was supposed to be doing chores. Books have always sucked me into another world, and I loved it.

I remember as an elementary school student hearing kids complain about having to read books for homework and thinking that I couldn’t disagree more. Those assignments were always my favorite! I would take reading for 30 minutes a day over a math worksheet any day. In fact, I even read over the summer when it wasn’t required! Every summer I couldn’t wait to sign up for summer reading at our local library and start reading. Getting rewards for doing something I loved? I was on cloud nine.

Although I don’t have as much time on my hands now, my love for reading has continued into adulthood. To me it is now a luxurious pastime, one that I wish I could do more often.

I believe that my passion for reading is, in no small part, due to the fact that my mom read aloud to me from such an early age. She helped me see reading as something fun and something to look forward to. Jim Trelease, author of New York Times Bestseller, “The Read Aloud Handbook,” describes that just teaching children how to read isn’t enough if they are to be lifelong readers.

“Without the ‘want-to,’ all the ‘how-to’ drill work is not going to create a lifetime reader. Your reading aloud is what builds the child’s ‘want-to.’”

I have had a “want-to” mindset when it comes to reading since I can remember. My mom read aloud to me, wandered the aisles at the library with me until I found that perfect book, helped me sign up for summer reading programs and more. Trelease said that reading aloud to your child can help condition them to associate reading with pleasure. I believe that because my mom started reading with me at a young age, I learned to love reading.

I don’t have any children of my own yet, but I have already started building a library of some of my favorite children’s books that my mom read to me as a child. I hope I can follow in her footsteps and help my future children to become lifelong readers. Although it may seem like a lofty goal in the technology-saturated culture they will grow up in, I believe it is attainable. I’ll start small and early; we’ll cuddle up and I’ll read them their favorite books aloud over and over again.

Emily Romney is the Welcome Baby Coordinator for United Way of Utah County. For more information and resources, visit http://everydaylearners.org.