“The Signal” – a reading ritual from younger days…

I am fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment where reading was encouraged and highly valued.  I was taught to read earlier than most of my schoolmates and – probably not coincidentally – usually tested out at a higher “reading level” than my classmates.  One family tradition I remember fondly (and this may not be peculiar to my family; I’ve never asked anyone else if they had similar rituals – until now ) is that, upon completing a book my dad would open the book up to roughly the middle (and this works better with hardcover books, naturally) then kind of “slam” it shut, making a satisfying “clap” of a noise.  As kids, of course, we ate this up (all kids like to make noise, I think), and fell for it hook, line and sinker as a dangling carrot at the end of a book we were reading.  Plus, the loud clap of a book slammed shut was a kind of public self declaration of achievement in our family (“I finished another one!”).  I particularly remember those little blue-covered “Hardy Boys mysteries” books made good fodder for this practice with their thick hard covers – AND their brevity.  I could knock off one of those in an afternoon in my young reading years…

 I’d be interested to hear if others are familiar with this – or had other – family rituals that encourage reading.


  1. November 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I read a lot of Hardy Boys when I was a kid too. In middle school, we used to have a tracker in our English class and we were given a sticker whenever we finished a book. It was on the honour system, but I think an annoucement was made or something if we achieved a milestone.

    I was always a slow reader, so this slightly discouraged me… but since I’m always fond of statistics, I really enjoyed charting my progress. The stickers didn’t mean much, but seeing how I did in relation to a class (given my slow speed), was encouraging.

    It was done by # of books though, so some people just read whatever was short. I just read what I enjoyed.


    • stentorpub said,

      November 30, 2010 at 6:50 am

      Good to see other Hardy Boys reading veterans out there! You know, it’s funny, but I don’t recall my school having any of those types of reading programs when I was growing up, but I certainly hear about them often from friends who have school age children now. All I remember are “book reports” which – maybe since there was slightly more than an honor system involved – have fallen by the wayside…


  2. Dale Barthauer said,

    November 29, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I’ve still got my collection of blue covered Hardy Boys books. My grandfather (who was not a big reading fan) always took me to a bookstore to by me one whenever he came to visit from Florida. I always appreciated the fact that he accepted my love of reading even if he didn’t understand it.


    • stentorpub said,

      November 30, 2010 at 6:52 am

      Hi Dale,
      Sounds like a good grandfather you had there. 🙂 I think my family’s collection may be in possession of my younger brother and nephews. I should probably look into this and verify their existence, as his house is the “black hole” of loaned materials…


  3. Alex said,

    November 30, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Love that tradition! Many I steal it, pretty please?

    I also came from a reading house, but unfortunately, no particular traditions. My mom read mysteries, my dad sci-fi, and they would entice me with any plot they thought was good. For years, I only read those two genres 


  4. stentorpub said,

    November 30, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Hi Alex,
    By all means! Help yourself!

    My parents were more eclectic readers, although my dad (a mathematician) didn’t read much fiction at all until he was well into his retirement years. I remember how shocked I was to learn he was reading through the Harry Potter (!!) books…


  5. Ann Marie said,

    December 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I read every Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew story when I was young. Still have the collection on my bookshelves (some of the Nancy Drew were inherited from my mother so they predate the pretty yellow covers). My niece borrowed them when she was young and read them all also.

    We didn’t have any big “reading traditions” other than my parents grounding me by taking away my books when I misbehaved. Talk about a young nerd in the making when the worst punishment a parent can dole out is to not allow you to read!


    • stentorpub said,

      December 4, 2010 at 6:20 pm

      I love reading traditions and hearing about books passed down the family to future generations. I love when a book or series of books catches on and then gets “passed around” (either physically or just via recommendations) among friends and family. E.g. “the girl with..” books & the hunger games books this year.

      Your story about “books being taken away as punishment” is priceless. And you’re right: Nerd Alert! 🙂


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