Do you remember first learning how to make sense of all those squiggly lines on paper? How the light just *clicked* and your brain went from illiterate to literate? I was making lunch in the kitchen the other day when Titus came up to me, holding a book. “I can read this,” he told me proudly. So, I asked him to read to me while I worked, and he sat down and read the entire book. My five-year-old. Who was reading things like “shiver me timbers” and “pirates” and “crocodile” without help. I have taught him a few of the basics of phonics, but nothing that would enable him to read a level 2 book in its entirety. I was flabbergasted, truth be told.
It brought me back to the start of my reading. I can plainly remember the day my mom brought out some flashcards. How she explained that some words have silent letters. How afterward I went and grabbed a book about Margaret Mead, the anthropologist and how Mom told me that I just wasn’t ready for that particular book because it was so long (and it was, big pages packed with words upon words). I can’t begin to explain what worlds opened to me once I started reading. I never did like the kiddy books. Chapter books, with adventures that grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go, that made those pages keep turning. I loved summer, because I could read in my bed late into the night without turning on a light and getting into trouble. I got to order books through school that were grades above the one I was in – that was how I got hooked onto the Narnia Chronicles. I tried going through the school library alphabetically. I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to be Anne of Green Gables. Animal stories were a favorite. Big Red, Black Beauty, the Black Stallion – I can still recall snippets. The Wizard of Oz. The Adventures of the Mad Scientists’ Club. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. To name just a few.
I still love it. I gobble up stories and imaginings with a voraciousness that is hard to control. I honestly don’t know how people can live lives devoid of literature. What a gift it was that Mom gave me. It has ended up being such a large part of my life that I can’t help but hope my children become book addicts, too. Will they look back and see the magic in the pages? In my mind I wonder, how can they not?