The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss
No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. ~ Confucius
Reading. For some, the ultimate in enjoyment and relaxation, and for others absolute torture. Yet, regardless of where a person falls on that continuum, reading is so critical to an individual’s ability to function in this world. While I will not be as bold as to say a person cannot live a life without being able to read, I will state that a life without literacy is a life that will find greater challenges and fewer opportunities.
Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Indeed, the ability to read opens doors that enhances our freedom. We become freer as we gain access to the multitude of knowledge and resources the world has available on the internet. (You know, like the magnificent resource to be found in wonderful blogs!!!) 🙂 The fast rise of the internet world has created a new age where literate individuals can access a plethora of information at the touch of a button (or computer key). If I can read, then I can navigate the internet to learn anything from how to change the oil in my car to basket weaving to baking a gluten-free seven-layer rainbow cake.
Richard Steele said, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” I do find this to be true. When we read (even “fluff” novels) we are exercising our minds. We are challenging ourselves to imagine, to learn, to envision, to dream. When I read a book of fiction, I love to allow myself to get lost in the story and as I do so, I am fortunate enough to travel to the world the author has artistically portrayed. When I read non-fiction, it opens my world up – I learn about individuals, history….. and I learn to challenge myself and my place in this world in light of the new information I am digesting. If I am able to do so, then I can integrate that knowledge and use it to better myself, my work environment, and my overall community. Harry S. Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” And another great leader, Abraham Lincoln, stated, ” The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” Yes, president Lincoln, I feel the same way. I can think of few greater gifts than that of a good book.
Yet, reading is not all about the acquisition of knowledge. C.S. Lewis stated, “We read to know we are not alone.” There have been times in my life that have been incredibly lonely. I had either moved to a new town, broken up a long-term relationship, or needed more time on my own. In these moments, when there is no one around, a book is a great comfort. Books become our world that entertains and comforts us, that challenges us to hold on, to persevere.
As I work with children and in education, I am always fascinated by the diversity of parental attitudes and opinions towards children and reading. Some parents are apathetic about children and reading. In some cases, these parents are individuals who struggle to read themselves or are not people who enjoy books. I also know many parents who are constantly fighting with their children in order to make them read more – requiring an hour or so of reading a day, coupled with summaries and essays of the books they have read. Some parents greatly monitor the types of books their children read as well. I think this is a very important, but slippery slope that must be carefully walked. I agree that books should be monitored for age-appropriate content and for values that a family feels comfortable with, but I also think that children need to read and it is important that the books they are reading will continue to nurture their love of reading. My partner tells a story of a fascination with comic books as a child. What torture rained down on her mother and father for purchasing a multitude of comic books for her to read! Many were judgmental that a child should be reading classics, and not the “comic book trash.” They felt that reading a comic book had very little literary value and would not be good educationally. Today my partner holds a PhD in American Literature….. I think the comic books served their purpose, in a positive way. Maya Angelou, agrees with the aforementioned concepts, ” Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
I am fortunate to have two daughters who love to read… in fact, we are a family of readers. We enjoy that quiet solace that comes from tucking ourselves in and devouring a good novel. I am so thankful that my daughters feel the same way as my partner and I do about books. We encourage them to read constantly and never say no when they are in need of more books.
What about your family? Do you read? If your child struggles to read, you can work with them and make reading more fun. You can take a novel they are interested in and read it to them, asking them to read an occasional sentence or paragraph to you. You can plan a family reading night once a week, and as a family you can read a book aloud and discuss it. And, most importantly, you can model a love for reading – make sure your children see you read.
So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall. ~ Roald Dahl
Today, 306 days ’til 40, I am thankful for books and for being literate. Books were a saving grace to me personally during rough patches as a child, and are now a wonderful escape from life’s daily grind. I read books the “old-fashioned” way, on a Kindle, on a Nook, on an iPad and on my computer. No matter what physical form they take, they comfort and entertain me and challenge my thinking. Books are to my brain as water is to a thirsty soul – I hunger for them at the end of a long day.