Column: Books are no longer the treasure they once were
Increasingl, I am developing and reaffirming an insight which is abhorrent to me.
Books are no longer the treasure they used to be—especially among youngsters.
We used to carry books around; now the young carry I-whatevers.
Well, I’m not going down without a fight. And I hope all you parents and grand parents out there will join me in what may be one final battle.
You see, in my perfect world, a library would be at the center of every neighborhood and every young boy and girl would understand that’s where the real treasure is. They would be very aware that the library is the one place in the whole world that contains more riches than anyone could hope to tap into in a lifetime.
And in each home would be a small branch library. Books would be scattered all around the house, with bookmarks sprouting from many of them, affirming their use.
The young generation would undergo a transformation from watchers to readers. The classics would take the place of whatever the young watch these days. New authors would be discovered with the same enthusiasm as new performers. At dinner, instead of a deadly silence between generations who travel on different wave-lengths, characters, descriptions and action from books would be discussed. “What did you read today? Tell us about it.”
Yes, yes, I know. We don’t live in a perfect world. Far from it! Too many children and too many parents do not understand why books are critical to their lives. They do not realize that literature is one of the pillars that a rich, full life rests on.
Reading words crafted by a talented author transforms lifeless paper into fascinating sheets with magical qualities. A reader discovers that each page is filled with a voice, a mind, sometimes a heart, reaching out, calling him or her to join in the adventure the writer is creating.
Reading at a young age is an enlivening and entertaining way of getting a head start on learning the basics of life.
Reading the words of a fine storyteller enables a person to live an imaginative life. What girl can read Little House on the Prairie and not be caught up in the story? Consider a boy not wanting to join Tom and Huck in their exciting adventures? Each of us lives a number of lives through books.
And it is in the pages of brilliant storytellers that we are enabled and challenged to magnify ourselves. We become greater than we otherwise could be—more interesting, informed and enlightened, better educated and sometimes, more significant. Reading can remove boundaries from our lives and broaden our views while increasing our perspectives.
One can hardly read a well-written book without becoming infatuated with the story or ideas or even the author. I have fallen in love countless times with stories that remain part of my life’s experience and with authors I have welcomed into my life. But it is with ideas that I become insanely besotted. I’m spellbound by a thought new to me, charmed when it is expressed with style and intrigued by how easily it becomes part of my mind’s memory.
Carefully crafted books are like passports to pleasure, some even to that enchanted land
that never leaves our unconscious and to which we can revisit whenever we like.
Indeed, I have no doubt each of us would be quite ordinary except for the adventures we have taken through books. The more we read, the more extraordinary we become.
A person raised with books knows how boring and common life would be without them.
And how true is Holbrook Jackson’s statement: “The end of reading is not more books, but more life.”
Dear parents and dear grandparents: give your children the joy of a lifetime—the joy of reading books, and begin this grand adventure with a trip to the library.