I've always loved to read. When I was a kid, my family moved around a lot, and sometimes I felt as if books were my best friends.
When we changed schools in the middle of a year, I found that my math education was left behind, but once I learned to read, no one could ever take that skill away from me. Words were my friends, opening doors to a magic world of Billy Goats Gruff, who lurked under bridges, a world of clever rabbits with cute little jackets, sneaking into Farmer McGregor's garden, stealing lettuces and carrots.
Books were always there for me. If I was sick and missed school for a day or two, I never returned to find that my books had a new best friend and had abandoned me to sit alone on the playground.
I've always loved the sound of words.
Sometime back, my daughter and I were browsing through Barnes and Noble, and I bought her a beautiful book of Edgar Allan Poe's works that she admired. I was rewarded, when on the drive home, she said, "Turn off the radio."
From the back seat, she read "The Raven." I listened to the smooth, familiar lines... "and the silken, sad uncertain rustle of each purple curtain thrilled me, filled me with a terror never felt before..."
It had been years since I had heard my daughter read a poem. When she was a small child, she memorized the puffin poem... "There once was a puffin, just the shape of a muffin, and he lived on an island in the bright blue sea. He ate little fishes, which were most delicious, and he had them for breakfast, and he had them for tea."
She recited the puffin poem to her daddy every night, before bedtime. We even recorded it for him, so he could listen to it, when we were visiting her grandma, who lived across the state.
Reading at bedtime was the most special time of the day, when all three of my children would gather on the bed and listen to me read stories that they had heard so many times before. We laughed together and enjoyed such a special time.
My daughter was fifteen, when her father died. She wrote a poem and read it at his funeral. It was a moment too sad for words, but she managed to reach into the depth of her soul and find the strength to read to her father one last time.
English is a beautiful language, the language of Shakespeare. I love to hear it spoken in the elegant voice of Sean Connery, or Patrick Stewart.
As a teacher, I've found that children are never too young or too old to listen to a well-read story or poem. Many weak readers don't hear the voices of the characters in their heads, so it helps for these voices to be read out loud to them by someone who can share the sounds of lively conversation.
These days, I'm the director of our local library, and I have the joy of associating with the library board, a group of nine lovely ladies, who love to read as much as I do. We even have a book club that meets every month. We met at My Daddy's Cheesecake in Advance yesterday to discuss "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
As I listened to the sparkling conversation, I thought of the magic all those years ago, when I first learned to read as a small child.