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How a Young Book Lover Becomes a Writer and Teacher

Monday, March 22, 2021

By Cynthia C. Muchnick

In2006, my eight-year-old son, our firstborn, stuffed fourteen library books into his suitcase for a one-week family vacation in Hawaii. The weight pushed his luggage over the airplane’s fifty-pound limit. We had to move the books into a carry-on so that he had room to pack clothes, too.

He had two books for each day of our vacation, and it still wasn’t enough. He devoured all of them within the first couple of days, so we had to peruse the donated beach reads left behind by other vacationers.

Our firstborn came into this world excited about words. As an infant, he giggled, kicked his feet, and waved his arms whenever we read to him; the greater the cadence of stories, the more he smiled. The Little Engine That Could, Dr. Seuss, and Goodnight Moon were among our favorites.

When he fell asleep at night, we’d stack a pile of picture books at the foot of his crib, hoping that at 5:00 a.m., when he awoke, he would entertain himself and afford his weary parents a bit more sleep.

We’d hear his little voice babbling through the baby monitor as he “read” to himself each morning. Then, he’d pull himself up and throw each book on the floor one at a time. Once they were all ejected, he called to us, ready to be lifted out of his crib to start the day.

When he was two-years-old, his grandmother proudly announced to us that he knew how to read. We thought that she might have been fooled by his ability to memorize every book that we owned. But she pulled out the Bisquick pancake box and pointed to the instructions of the breakfast recipe.

“And what does this say?” she gently asked.

“Crack . . . the . . . egg . . . and . . . stir . . . the . . . mix,” he carefully read aloud.

By golly, he was really reading!

Books were like candy for this boy. A trip to the library was as exciting as Disneyland. A well-loved book was always tucked under one arm and his favorite truck-themed blanket was hugged by the other.

When he was sitting by the pool on that Hawaiian vacation, nothing could break his concentration from the book on his lap — books were his entire world.

Some curious parents asked: “How did you get your son to read books? Mine only wants to play video games.”

I replied with the truth. “He was born that way.”

I am sure that reading to him from the day we arrived home from the hospital played an integral role in his budding affinity for literature. (There is plenty of research to back up this claim.) But, quite frankly, words just tickled him. And books were his favorite toy.

That same boy went off to boarding school at the age of fourteen, which was difficult for our close-knit family to accept. He was inspired by a seventh-grade English teacher who shared his love of books, the Harkness method, and interdisciplinary connections between subjects. This teacher encouraged him to go to a high school where “It’s cool to be smart, and it’s cool to love books.”

He wrote college application essays about his love of books, bookstores, and libraries. In his first apartment after graduating college, his most exciting purchase was not a couch, a television, or a wall hanging, but bookshelves. He wanted to be surrounded by books that he owned, collected, and loved.

By now it should make perfect sense that his first job as a twenty-two-year-old man is working as an English teacher, and he has since gone on to become a writer of published books and scholarly articles of his own.

Books have been with him from the beginning — filling his life with purpose and meaning — and it looks to remain that way.


Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick also loves books — writing them, reading them, and holding them in her hands. She is the author of several educational books for students and adults including The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen’s Wellness and Academic Journey in Today’s Competitive World. She has worked in college admissions, as an educational consultant, and a high school teacher. She speaks professionally to parents, students, teachers, and businesses on topics such as study skills, the adolescent journey, college admission, and the parent compass movement. Muchnick’s children’s book will be published in early 2023. She resides in Northern California with her four kids, husband, and dog, Sprinkle.

Cynthia and her son, Justin, will be appearing on Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books later this year.

For more information about the author: www.cynthiamuchnick.com, www.parentcompassbook.com,

The Parent Compass