One of the first books I learned to read was the Bible. I still cherish the moments when I can pick up this ancient book and read some of my favorite passages. I had taken my Bible reading for granted when I was younger, but I know that it is too important to overlook and gather dust in these turbulent days.
My husband is an avid reader. He enjoys reading novels from all genres, particularly the mystery and science-fiction fantasy novels. I have never had trouble reading during my youth, but I realize now that I didn’t have the mindset to always process or comprehend the material set before my eyes. I can remember reading the biography of Doris Day when I was in elementary school. I do not know what inspired me to pick up that particular book and read, but I do know that I was fascinated with the actresses of the 1950s and 1960s. I remember vague details about her troubled life, and that is all. In high school my senior English teacher decided to “expose” us to world of subliminal messages through literature of the future. I remember reading strange novels such as “The Old Man and the Sea,” “1984,” “Animal Farm,” and “Fahrenheit 451.” If I had taken a serious step toward comprehension I may have appreciated his push into the unknown. Little did I know that it would take another 16 years before I realized that some literature is meant to be strange and obscure.
Upon my return to higher education in 2002 I have picked up many new interests in novels and textbooks. I have found that many of the school-suggested textbooks are dry, dull and lifeless; however, there are many other resources that convey the same message in a passionate, imaginative tone. I became a fan of the local bookstore, and managed to navigate my way around the online book warehouses.
I wanted to share my newfound love for literature with my children. At the current time of my enlightenment to the written word, they were still too young to read or comprehend the books I placed in their laps. Going to the library for “story time” was out of the question. Imagine the ordeal I suffered by trying to convince three squiggly, rambunctious boys to sit still and listen to the “story lady” sing songs and read some books. I envied all the other moms who were able to sit with their quiet, well-mannered children and not break a sweat during the story hour. Those children must have been medicated!
I began to research different ways on reaching my children through literature, and another new love was born: the rebirth of the home-schooling movement! I borrowed as many library books as I could on this subject, and I continued to study this “narrow-road” approach to education. I didn’t plan to find a passion in teaching my own children through my discovery, but I wanted to find a way that I could encourage my children to learn to love reading as I did.
While I will reserve the topic of education for another day, I do have to say that there is more to learning than sitting behind a school desk and listening to a myriad of teachers drone on and on about a subject that seems so lifeless. The world of literature is so vast and abundant with books that are brimming with life! These real-life “twaddle-free” books are created by authors who have passion for a particular topic. They have a story to tell, and a textbook publisher cannot hold a candle to the authors who pour their lives on the paper.
It has taken me 35 years to discover the sheer awesomeness of imagination that awaits me in the pages I touch. I have steered clear of some of the more recent, popular books, so I may re-learn to appreciate the depth of the classic novels. Works by C.S. Lewis, J.D. Wyss, or Roald Dahl have captured my attention and awakened my imagination. Though it may take a lot of time, I hope that the next few years will find me still reading these classic novels. The bookstores are full of them, and I am eager to fill my library at home with these treasures.
If a person is at a loss of where to begin in the world of literature, my first suggestion is to pick up a book that relates to your present interests. Whether it is cooking, automobile repair, fitness, gerontology, genealogy, medicine or education, a person should be able to find a perfect fit (or a similar match). I hope that we won’t ever have to experience any form of book burning, as represented in the book, “Fahrenheit 451.” Literature should be a joy to consume, and its impact has seared the hearts of millions for years. The ability to read is a privilege and a right, and every man, woman and child should have the opportunity to experience the joy of the written word.