When I was very young, I remember my aunt reading to me and trying to teach me the alphabet. She was only two years older than I, but I still remember her little self being the teacher. Other than that, I don’t remember anyone ever reading to me as a child (if you remember differently, sisters, please let me know). It didn’t stop me though, and I began my life-long love affair with books in the third grade. That was the year I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books in our school library.
The library at Arcadia Elementary School was located in the basement. I can still feel the anticipation I experienced each week as we lined up and walked down the wooden halls of the school to the library. Immediately upon entering, I would head straight for the section where Laura’s books were shelved and scoop up the next book in the series.
And off I’d go into my private little world, devouring book after book after book.
Since the third grade, I’ve read so many books I often get two or three chapters into one before a phrase or the action of the story reminds me that this is one I’ve already digested at some point or other. My husband used to tell our children, “Say goodbye to your mother for a day or two, now; she’s starting a new book!”
There is something about reading that is almost magical. It’s as if one is able to transport themselves into another realm. I really get into reading—I cry, I laugh, I get angry at a character’s behavior. I sigh when a book ends, reluctant to turn that last page and close the story. Occasionally, I’ve read a book that caused me to re-read the last page or chapter over several times, simply because it ended either too abruptly (like, where did the rest of the story go?), or the twist of it left me open-mouthed and incredulous, or the end was so haunting that I just couldn’t let it go. Yes, I love to read books.
From the very moment they were born, I either read to our children or told them made-up stories. One of their favorite was the story I told of how God had woven them together when they lived inside of me. I told Josh how God had used his darkest ink to create those black-brown eyes he has, and I told Jenni how God had fun and dropped a head full of blonde hair on her, so people would say, “Where did all that blonde hair come from?” I told them how God had knit their little toes onto their feet and commented on how special they were as He worked. They loved it and so did I.
Their father told them stories, too, about Fuema the Mouse. He’d sit on their bed at bedtime and share his stories as their eyes glistened with enjoyment. Nowadays he tells our grandsons stories about Hoppy Joe the Frog—all out of his imagination. It’s fun to watch them sit spellbound–as did their mother many years ago–as he weaves his story together, full of adventure and special characters and life lessons.
It caught. Josh was the first to love reading. I remember when he was a pre-teen; he’d mow grass in order to buy the Dallas O’Neal book series. A few years later it was the books by Frank Peretti. I can recall many nights that I’d get up in the wee hours of the morning to find him deep into a book. I’d tell him he needed to rest; he’d tell me he just had to finish this chapter. His love for reading transferred over into poetry, writing and songwriting. He still writes now, and very well, I might say.
Jenni didn’t begin to love reading until about the sixth or seventh grade. All of a sudden, it was if she couldn’t read enough. She also spent many hours reading Frank Peretti, among the vast library of books she consumed. I remember one summer she read about 20 books, picking up a new one almost as quickly as she closed the cover of the old one. She still loves to read even now. Since December she has read 12 or 13 books, standing at the counter while she cooks supper, or lying on the bed while the boys play in another room, or while she’s waiting for the clothes dryer to stop.
I told my children, and now my grandchildren—when you read you can go anywhere. The places you travel and the sights you see when you read produce an active imagination. It’s a tradition I hope to pass on to the grands, just as I was blessed to be able to pass it on to our children.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the new Dean Koontz book just arrived in the mail, and it’s calling my name.