My childhood was a little different

Growing up in Paris in the first decades of the twentieth century were two contented children from whose household all toys and dolls had been banned. It had been their mother’s intent to nurture their intellectual skills, and the gambit had obviously worked. The older child, Andre Weil, born in 1906, was solving the most advanced mathematical problems by the time he was nine; by the age of twelve he had taught himself classical Greek and Sanskrit and become an accomplished violinist. his sister, Simone, three years his junior, a strikingly beautiful girl with dark, limpid eyes, was reading the evening paper aloud to her family when she was five, and wold master Greek and several modern languages in her early teens. the siblings often communicated with each other in spontaneously rhymed couplets, or in ancient Greek.

— From the Penguin Lives volume on Simone Weil by Francine Du Plessix Gray

My childhood consisted mostly of riding my bike, climbing trees, playing sports and other physical activities. My brothers and I communicated mostly through spontaneous outbreaks of physical violence. In my defense, I was a voracious reader. My parents had a rule that allowed only 10 hours of TV a week. One hour during the week and 3 hours a day on the weekend (this was mostly to allow for football games). In order to be able to watch TV, however, we were required to read a book a month alternating fiction and non. The rule soon became moot for me as I read a great deal more than a book a month. My step-brother was not so inclined. I still remember seeing him at the end of each month furiously reading so he could watch TV. No foreign languages were spoken, however, and we never read the paper.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

View all posts

My childhood was a little different

Growing up in Paris in the first decades of the twentieth century were two contented children from whose household all toys and dolls had been banned. It had been their mother’s intent to nurture their intellectual skills, and the gambit had obviously worked. The older child, Andre Weil, born in 1906, was solving the most advanced mathematical problems by the time he was nine; by the age of twelve he had taught himself classical Greek and Sanskrit and become an accomplished violinist. his sister, Simone, three years his junior, a strikingly beautiful girl with dark, limpid eyes, was reading the evening paper aloud to her family when she was five, and wold master Greek and several modern languages in her early teens. the siblings often communicated with each other in spontaneously rhymed couplets, or in ancient Greek.

— From the Penguin Lives volume on Simone Weil by Francine Du Plessix Gray

My childhood consisted mostly of riding my bike, climbing trees, playing sports and other physical activities. My brothers and I communicated mostly through spontaneous outbreaks of physical violence. In my defense, I was a voracious reader. My parents had a rule that allowed only 10 hours of TV a week. One hour during the week and 3 hours a day on the weekend (this was mostly to allow for football games). In order to be able to watch TV, however, we were required to read a book a month alternating fiction and non. The rule soon became moot for me as I read a great deal more than a book a month. My step-brother was not so inclined. I still remember seeing him at the end of each month furiously reading so he could watch TV. No foreign languages were spoken, however, and we never read the paper.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

View all posts