When it’s full of your friends.
from: The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
written by Roald Dahl
illustrated by Quentin Blake
Jonathan Cape, 1985
Several years ago someone asked me why it is important to read. The thought stopped me in my tracks. It felt like the answer was something everyone should know, but just like the answer to “why is the sky blue?” I suspected the answer was complicated.
I’m not sure what I answered at the time, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Of course I came up with a list (in no particular order):
- Discover current information about the world
- Learn something new
- Become more interesting
- Find a new role model in a biography or memoir
- For entertainment
- Keep my brain active
- Have something in common with my kids, grandkids, and friends
When I was still working, I’d visit classrooms in the spring to get the kids excited about Summer Reading. I always told them that just like they need to exercise their bodies by riding bikes or swimming or playing, it is important to exercise their brains, too. Reading is the best way.
I used to read children’s books so I could recommend them to children when they came to the library. But because my dream of becoming a published children’s author is still very much alive, I continue to read lots of children’s books. Also I like them.
I did not have the kind of mom who pulled me up on her lap and read bedtime stories (or other stories, either). I had the kind of mom who took me to the library whenever I wanted and let me pick out my own books. I don’t remember having a limit, but the library might have had one.
My books were funny and contemporary. I loved fairy tales and biographies. I liked mysteries. I was not a fast reader, and I still am not. When I was in high school, my grandmother gave me her copy of Little Women. I think she told me it was her favorite book. It took two years, really, but I read it. I liked it, too.
Sometimes I read to my little brother. The Cat in the Hat, some Grimm stories from a collection we had, and one of his (and my) favorite picture books, a Little Golden Book, called The Big Brown Bear about a bear who didn’t listen to his wife about staying out of the honey tree. Disney/Hyperion, which itself falls under the Random House/Penguin umbrella, acquired Little Golden Books several years ago and made it an imprint. Now you can find some of those cardboard covered, gold-spined gems in the library.
This week is International Literacy Association-sponsored “Right to Read” week. The primary focus of the week is to promote reading by asking children to vote for their favorite book. Awards are given for books with the most votes, divided by grade level. The ILA times their week to match up with Children’s Book Week, administered by the Children’s Book Council, a non-profit trade organization of book publishers.
So go to your library, (or book shelf) find a child, (or Skype or Facetime your grandchildren), and read something together.
I’m reading The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly. (Greenwillow, 2016)
and have fun, too.