I remember that winter night, as the snow fell and the wind blew, I read my first book. I was six, sitting on the couch next to my mother, who every night I would beg her to read to me. My favorite book was, A Gift-Bear for the King by Carl Memling and Lillian Hoban. One night the words on the page just clicked, and I knew how to read them. I was so excited. From that day forward, I read everything I could, including cereal boxes. Reading opened new worlds for me. It allowed me to dream, find solace during difficult times, and open new worlds when mine seemed boring or chaotic.
When I was in Jr. High School, I encountered an older man unknown to me at the local library (I loved the old building and the aisles and aisles of books). I was choosing a book when he stopped to suggest one. He told me of the lands he had traveled to and all the wonders of the world he had explored. My jaw dropped, as I had never met a world traveler before. I lived rurally and grew up rural. There was no internet or computers. There were two TV channels, a local newspaper, and books for entertainment and information gathering. The man smiled and said, “I traveled via the pages of these books. They open your world, but you must open them first.” Forty-nine years later, I still remember what he said.
I feel sad for those who do not like reading or cannot. The pandemic has set many children back, and their reading skills are not there. I grew up in an era where parents read to their children, or there was always an older sibling available to read part of a story to you. I don’t think children of today have that luxury. Modern society does not understand that the written word is powerful and that the ability to understand the world better lies beneath and between these words. A writer paints with words, and those words can unlock hope, dreams, knowledge, and a better understanding of the world.
Communication via reading, writing and storytelling can define a culture – writing and reading will always be a part of mine.