Books I Grew up on is a blog series featuring guest bloggers who discuss reading in their childhoods: the books they loved, the paths they found to developing a love for reading, and how reading helped them become who they are today! Today’s Books I Grew up on guest blogger is singer and performer Casey Elliott.
Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up there?
I was born in Riverside, CA and lived there until I was 8 years old. At that point, my family moved to Bountiful, UT where I lived until I graduated from high school (Woods Cross High). Both places were incredible places to grow up. The hills of Riverside provided me with endless hours of exploring the outdoors, ever expanding my collection of lizards and always eating fresh fruit from my grandparent’s fruit trees. Bountiful was a change, but a good one. I found that there were more kids to play with and I quickly found a close connection with several other boys in my neighborhood.
What role did books have in your childhood?
Once we moved to Bountiful, I started to have a deep desire to read a variety of books. I would often ride my rollerblades (yep, rollerblades!) to the Davis County Library in Bountiful to read Tales from the Crypt, Hatchet, books about tying knots and the outdoors, and books about foreign countries, to name a few. I also found that I loved to do my homework in the library. There was just something about the library that made it easier to focus and learn.
How did you first develop a love for reading?
We would often read the scriptures as a family. I think this really helped spark my interest in reading as a young boy. Being able to consume more of the stories because my parents and older siblings were helping to speed things along really helped me to see that if you stick with a book, the story can get really exciting.
What was your favorite book as a child? Why?
One of my favorite books was called Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I just thought it was so cool how a young boy could survive in the wilderness with pretty much nothing by a hatchet! I tried it a few times while camping and let’s just say I decided to focus my talent development on singing.
What is your favorite children’s book now? Why?
I really love King Bidgood’s in the Bath Tub by Audrey and Dan Wood. Such a fun book with incredible illustrations. Plus, it allows me to ham it up with my character voices, which my kids love.
What advice would you give to young readers?
I had a hard time learning to read. In fact, when I was about 10, it was recommended that I take some tutoring at Silvan Learning Center. I had learned to read in a way that didn’t allow me to see and read more than one word at a time. I would read each word very slowly from memory, having no understanding of phonetics. I had a really good memory, so I would just try to memorize each word, without really understanding the basics of phonetics and spelling. I was not a smooth reader! I could have easily given up and decided to work on other things, like sports, singing, etc. But I had amazing parents and teachers who stuck with me and helped me to see the incredible things that could come from developing my reading skills – and I have been blessed a thousand times over from sticking with it and learning to get lost in a good book. My advice to young readers is STICK WITH IT! Learning to read and learning to enjoy reading, will be one of the most beneficial skills you develop in your life.
Tell us about any projects you are currently working on and excited about.
I’d really love GENTRI to produce a “Where’s Stephen?” Children’s book some day. Stephen is our music director and we’re always trying to find him when we travel!
Casey Elliott is from Riverside, California, and is renowned for his powerful vocal and acting ability. He has toured the world as a performer, including his role as Radames in the U.S. National Tour of Aida and the first ever Broadway tour to perform throughout Mainland China. Other theatrical credits include Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Zorro in the premiere of Zorro the Musical, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. As a solo singer as well as alongside other reputable vocalists, Casey has graced the stages of many prestigious venues throughout the country, including multiple appearances with the Utah Symphony. Casey holds a degree in business management from Weber State University, and currently works for a notable technology company. He and his wife have four beautiful children. Visit the Gentri website for more information.