Thursday, January 19, 2017

More on Reading

Recent posts about being read to as a child hit close to home. As the father of an 8-year-old daughter, Keeley (the real Keeley, I say), Donis’s post certainly spoke to me.

The Real Keeley
Similarly (and maybe coincidentally), I wrote a short post on Facebook last week when Keeley honored her late great grandfather. My grandfather, George Dumont, came to Maine, one of 17 children (yes, 17, that’s not a typo) in search of work at age 12 during the Depression. His education fell by the wayside in lieu of millwork, something he would continue until age 65, when he retired with a pension and health insurance. If asked, he would tell you he achieved the American Dream, and thus enlisted in WWII to repay America “for all that it gave me.”

When looked at through my grandfather’s lens, reading, therefore, is a privilege. As an American this fall, this very week of the Presidential Inauguration, for sure I am thinking about privilege. Given my “day job,” living and working at Northfield Mount Hermon School, helping to offer teenagers (my own included) an education many deem "elite," is an embarrassing privilege when I think of my grandfather, who for good and obvious reasons may not have been a great reader. (I don’t remember him ever reading to me, for example.) Reading and education, though, were never lost on him. His goal was simple: to offer his own children an education. And he did. All four children attended college, one earning a Ph.D. and going on to become a university president.

Keeley at the NMH Farm
Reading is seen differently in my home. Not as a privilege. Not as an expectation. It simply is. Keeley loves books. She’s certainly exposed to them. She lives in a house attached to a girls’ dorm with 46 young women who take their education seriously and work very hard to maximize it. She lives in a house where her parents read and read to her. And she lives in a house where books are written (and revised endlessly and contemplated and hair is pulled out, but I digress). So Keeley is a reader.

So during this, the week of the Presidential Inauguration — an event during which power and privilege will most likely not be discussed by those who are privileged the most — I am thinking about reading not only as a joy but also as a privilege.

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