Thursday, January 12, 2017

How We Learn to Love Books

Rick and Aline both wrote wonderful entries this week about being read to as a child. I'm sure every book-lover has a similar story. When your parents read to you when you're little, you learn to associate the experience with being loved and safe. I, of course, have stories of my own. Rick's story in particular brought to mind the Golden Book of poems and riddles my parents bought for me when I was little more than a toddler.

I had a lot of books when I was a kid. My parents bought them for me long before I could read, for which bless you, parents. This little Golden Book was one of my favorites, and I can still recite parts of it to this day. For instance: “What did the old woman say when she looked down the rain barrel?” Answer: OICURMT (It took me years to figure out what Oicurmt meant). But the poem I loved the most was You Are Old, Father William, by Lewis Carroll. I enjoyed it enough to memorize when I was a little girl. I still remember it, and as the years pass, it means more to me now than it ever did.

My parents took turns reading to me every night, and I never, ever let them weasel out of it for any silly reason like floods or fires or deathly illnesses. They read the same books to me so many times that I knew them by heart. I still remember very clearly an incident that occurred when I was about four and spending the night with my grandmother. I had brought my pre-sleep book with me, but my grandmother--a notoriously impatient woman--kept trying to skip lines. Needless to say this was not going to pass unchallenged. My grandmother also had a somewhat perverse sense of humor, so once she realized that she wasn't going to get away with it, she made a game of leaving out words and changing sentences to see if I'd catch her. I always did. This may have amused my grandmother, but it didn't contribute to a peaceful night's sleep for her little fusspot of a grandchild.

The joy of a good story well told turns a child into a book-loving adult. I spent much of my teenaged years and young adulthood with my nose in a book. So much so that my mother was a bit concerned about the fact that I'd rather read than play or hang around with friends. It was something of a joke in my family that if I was reading, I couldn't hear the phone ring or knocking at the door or gunshots and screaming.

A good book has gotten me through many a tough situation. A well written story teaches a child about compassion, perseverance, bravery, and lets him walk in another's shoes in a way a thousand lectures can't do. I can't imagine a better gift a parent can give her child.

p.s. On another note, don't forget that my first Alafair Tucker Mystery, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, is being offered as a free download at Amazon and iTunes through the month of January. Don't miss your chance!


Donna S said...

Hi Donis:
I really can't remember being read to but I am sure I must have been I had a whole library of little Golden Books, which I loved.

When I was a child, you could not go into the adult section of the library until you were 12 years old and were limited to 3 books at a time. I can remember the first time I was allowed into the adult section - there were different floors for each section - I was so excited, like I had been let loose in a candy store! The first book I took out was by M.R. James, Turning of the Screw. I just loved it and started me on the road to enjoying ghost and supernatural books and mysteries.

Thank you so much for your post.

Donna S said...

I must apologize! On re-reading my post I realize I had the wrong author. It was Henry James and the book was The Turn of the Screw. Sorry about that.

Donis Casey said...

It is a wonderful book no matter who wrote it, Donna.