Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Book Left Behind

The summer before third grade, my mother gave me a gift beyond imagining: a set of Nancy Drew mysteries. I loved reading before then, but that gift started me on my path as a lifelong reader. Reading is my life. I can’t imagine not having books around me. They give my life weight and continuity; they are an escape and a comfort and a joy; they are my way of life. Books are, in fact, my drug of choice. They are also my predominant and preferred d├ęcor; I’ve always believed that decorating is mostly about having enough bookshelves.

I read a wonderful quote once: A house without books is like a room without windows. This is a fundamental truth in my life, one I want to pass on to Lindsey, Ethan and Corban. I want my love of books and reading to light me like a lamp for my children to see by. It starts with my attitude toward reading; it’s about contagious enthusiasm. Is there any greater gift to give a child than the magic of books? I’ve read aloud to all three of the kids. In fact, Corban and I just finished “Where the Red Fern Grows.” This is my third time through this book as a read-aloud, and I’m never quite steeled for the ending. But even with my breaking down in the telling, it becomes a story none of them will ever forget.

Thanks to Jim Trelease, we know reading to our kids can awaken sleeping imaginations and increase language skills. We know it can improve listening comprehension and reverse the horrible epidemic of our children going blind in their minds’ eyes. But this is not about showing our children how to read; it’s about teaching them to want to read. It’s about passing on the joy. It’s this joy that takes me often to the used-book room of our beautiful and small local library. For 25 cents you can buy a paperback, and for 50 cents a hardcover. I could borrow the books for free, but there is something satisfying about holding and reading a book that’s my own… For such a small cost, I can buy myself the gift of abundance. Even better, I can share that gift with my children.


Peggy Johnstone said...

This is a picture of Lindsey at about 6 months of age. In addition to an advanced palate, she was reading Dostoevsky before she was a year old. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I really like the picture!

Sydney said...

It's amazing how many people I have found who were so influenced (and have done a blog entry) about Nancy Drew! I have all my sisters old copies, the hand me downs i read as a kid under the covers with a flashlight til 3 am.. they have kind of a denim blue cover. And I have many of the newer, yellow spine with color picture covers too.