No one should miss joy of reading

Published 12:40 am Saturday, May 10, 2014

Since I grew up before television and without sisters or brothers, my favorite diversion as a child was reading. Every week during the summer, I skipped to a house up the road with a wrap-around porch containing the community library–a cabinet with three shelves. A knock on the front door brought Mrs. Griffin, the keeper of the library. She always had something special she had chosen for my reading pleasure.

I do not remember my daddy reading novels, but he read the morning and evening editions of the Birmingham newspapers every day. I often saw him browsing volumes of the Americana Encyclopedia my parents purchased to help me with my schoolwork. Too, Daddy loved reading dictionaries. He spent as much time with a dictionary in his hand as one would with a novel. I believe that was why he was an excellent speller. He always sent me to the dictionary to look up a word instead of spelling it for me. It became a game as I got older to try to find a word he couldn’t spell. That hardly ever happened.

My mother enjoyed magazines and novels. She told me that she once stayed up all night reading “Gone with the Wind.” My maternal grandmother also loved to read. She enjoyed newspapers and read the Bible regularly. My mother introduced me to nursery rhymes and bedtime stories. She often laughed about how she tried to skip over lines while reading bedtime stories to me. She had read them so many times I had them memorized, so she never got away with that. I also read those same bedtime stories to my children and had a similar experience. My grandchildren are grown now, but I treasure the memory of the special times when they argued about who was going to sit next to me when we gathered for a storybook session.

You can travel anywhere and have all kinds of adventures through reading a book. I recall a week when I found myself in Tulsa, Okla., at the Salvation Army Mission. A day later, I was on my way to Hitchings, Texas, and then moved on to Houston Harbor, returned to Tulsa, skipped over to San Bernardino, Calif., and hurried to Fort Smith, Ark. Of course, I was at home all the time, traveling to those places via a book in my hand.

For years, I have read every night at bedtime. It was always one of my dreams to find time to read as much as I wanted when I retired. I have finally learned to retreat without guilt to my recliner when I please, between household chores, to lose myself in a book. So what if laundry and dirty dishes await me?

These days some children miss the pleasures of reading because of television and electronic gadgets. Parents sometimes just do not have the time to read to their children. What a shame. The joy of reading is something no one, especially a child, should miss.