It seems there is a national day for everything. Some seem a bit silly to me. Do cold cuts and tater tots really merit a day honoring them each year? There must be some people who think so. But today is National Book Lover’s Day and that is a holiday I absolutely fully embrace. Bibliophiles can celebrate reading and literature to their heart’s content. It is especially awesome that it falls on a Sunday this year, allowing the bookworm in me to indulge in some quality reading time.
While the benefits of reading are well documented, my six-year old self had no idea of any statistics supporting my favorite activity. Our rural school district didn’t have a kindergarten in 1960, so I had to wait until first grade to start my school career. I remember sitting in reading circle at the back of the classroom, eagerly awaiting my turn. We would take turns reading aloud, able to advance in the circle if we knew a word the student in front of us didn’t know. The person who was at the head of the circle at the end of reading time was rewarded with a tootsie roll! Although today’s teachers might look askance at this teaching method, I enjoyed many a tootsie roll that year. Despite later being “denounced as dull”, I loved Dick, Jane and Sally. I was surprised to learn in this 2015 article, 15 Fun Facts about Dick and Jane, that the concept for Dick and Jane books came from a school teacher in LaPorte, Indiana. I spent the first 18 years of my life living within a few miles of LaPorte!
I have from time to time wondered where my love of reading came from. Was I just too lazy to spend my afternoon riding my bike or practicing piano instead of reading? I’ve decided it wasn’t laziness, but the wonderful example set by the two people in my young world who loved me best. My father didn’t own a “Book Lover” mug or an independent bookstore tote bag, but my strongest childhood memory of him is seeing him stretched out on the couch in the evening, devouring paperback after paperback. The other person was my Aunt Ruby. My dad and my beloved Aunt Ruby would exchange grocery bags full of “pocket books”, bought at yard sales or thrift shops. In fact, my name came from a book Dad was reading when my mother was pregnant with me – A Woman Named Storm. I wish he had held on to the book for me. While he didn’t save that book, he did pass on to me a love of reading.
I read because it gives me pleasure. I even find the touch and smell of books satisfying. Reading expands my world, pushing me to go outside myself and experience other times, places and events. As a grandma, I now have the joy of watching my grandchildren become readers. They all end their day with some form of family reading time. Today is day five of my ten day project reading via Facetime to my three grandsons in Maryland. Their dad hands out the “snack of the day” I have provided and I spend the next half hour reading Mañanaland by Pam Munoz Ryan aloud to them. So far so good and I’m eager to repeat the experience with my granddaughters.
One of my personal heroines, Nora Ephron, said “Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, become a better person…Reading is bliss.” I do feel accomplished when I finish a book, albeit a little sad, like I have lost a friend. But luckily, there are many novels still to be read, so my future looks blissfully bookish!
C’est la vie.