Reading – It would be great for it to be en vogue again….

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family – Dr. Condolezza Rice

Reading for Life – Pat Conroy

 Over the last two days I had the opportunity to catch two wonderful interviews via NPR/KQED in the bay area of Northern California.  Dr. Condolezza  Rice spoke about her new book at a Commonwealth Club Event and Pat Conroy was interviewed regarding his new book.  Both books were biopic in nature and the interviews demonstrated two people very in love with reading.  As I was listening to each interview, I realized the love of reading I had inside was also instilled by a parent(s), grandparent, baby sitter, etc. who made books a national treasure above all other things I could possibly possess.  It  was a moment when I wanted to hug myself in joy for all I have been able to learn, enjoy, appreciate, opine upon and so forth by having literacy.

When ever I have these moments of appreciation about reading I always wonder what it is which makes obtaining a library card so difficult for so many.  I think of all the ludicrous irrationalities I have heard from parents regarding reading (all the while letting me know about TV and movies they and their children have seen).  I can’t help but think it must be some form of child abuse to not have a child be able to know letters and numbers by kindergarden and read by Grade 1 – in spite of what teachers at public schools try to do for children.  How on earth is it possible to have illiterate children in Grades 2, 3 and above? 

What do people put in their home if not books? 

At the very moment I get outraged in my mind about the ridiculousness of the situation, I begin to hope that the new ‘exotic’ will be reading.  My own personal belief is the very ideas we deem exotic ( strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual) have more to do with lack of exposure. Perhaps, since we have given every other possible tsotchke except reading/literacy to children, the time has finally come  for the exoticness of reading. 

 I am unclear where my generation went so terribly wrong on the reading front.  What I do know is there are other people out there who did not come from extreme wealth and managed to learn to read and find joy in the very power it instills to us.   The more you read, the more you are able to make important decisions about your life, the more you are aware, the more you become a member of society and the world. 

Parents, if you have a limited budget for the holidays this year, may I suggest the gift of reading?  It is by far the best value, dollar for dollar and it actually carries more potential value than gold or platinum.  The best investment is education and remarkably, you  need not belong to any particular political party!