Reading – Passion
I don’t remember learning to read, although Mom says it was by the phonics method. Sounds and all that. My earliest memory was the round robin reading groups. I didn’t see any birds in the group, no one peeped…if a bird had been there and peeped, the teacher would have jerked out a few feathers. The story we read was Dick and Jane — that intrigued me. I know, I know, such a mundane story line. The next thing I knew the story came to a conclusion just as the teacher called on me to read. You can imagine her ire when it became obvious I hadn’t followed along with the group, word by halting word. I soon learned it was easier to enjoy going at my pace.
The next memory was owning a silver dime bank, almost filled with shiny dimes. Against my Mom’s express wishes I took that silver dime bank with me to the local library in the knitted blue purse with the zipper closing. When I came home, I did not have the silver dime bank any more. Somehow it disappeared and when I returned to the library it was gone. A tough lesson for an 9 year old to learn.
Mom always said I had dirty elbows until I was 16, because my favorite position on lying on my stomach reading a book, elbows propping up my chin. Once winter we had a blizzard in Clinton, OK. Dad had to dig a tunnel in the snow to the garage where he fed the chickens. Mom decided this was a perfect day to enjoy a book, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Mom read until her throat was raw. To this day I remember the part where Phronsie Pepper kept asking a question about a bird, “Tan it sing? Tan it sing?”
The array of colorful books in the library lined the shelves. It was a beginning of my dream of heaven – a book-filled room with comfortable chairs. Light streamed in the windows highlighting the dust specs arising from the old dusty pages. I reviewed the books and wondered if I would ever be able to read every book in the library. I continue to aspire to that lofty goal.
As an early book critic, I surveyed the book covers first of all – all hard backed books then. If the corners were bent and thready, and the title smudged and worn, I knew I had a winner. That book had been in many hands and enjoyed by many pairs of eyes. The second test was to open the book at random to review several pages looking for quotation marks. Descriptions made the reading bog down. Quotation marks meant the characters in the books were fomenting action of some sort.
Finding reading time was not always easy between homework and chores as a child. Saturday mornings were the worst, for the house must be cleaned first. If the book was pulling me, usually a once-up-on-a-time fairy tale, I rushed to the bedroom to ‘clean’. And there I dusted, rubbed the hardwood floor, on my hands and knees, pushing the book along before me. Under the bed I forgot to keep going. The house became quiet, until Mother’s voice asked, “Suzy, are you reading?” Her tones left no doubt that I had better not be reading. Being a good child and not telling a lie, I hid the book under my mattress before I answered, “No, Mom.”
Mom knew me and hid my books on Saturday. Then there was my lovely walk in closet. A closet with a light, shelves on the right and hang-up clothes on the right. The middle shelf was elbow-high. Leaning on the shelf, I closed the door at night, with the light on, and read until I almost fell asleep. On Sunday afternoons we were to take naps. Somehow a nap is accompanied by the memory of a pink bedspread. One day I found out that God’s all seeing vision went straight through pink bedspreads where I lay cuddling my book and reading rose-colored pages instead of taking a nap.
I measured the world in plots. If something didn’t include a plot, I wasn’t interested. Dishes, house cleaning, football — so many things seemed useless when there was no plot and its repetitive nature continues without respite.
It was difficult to manage nursing the babies and balance a book. Our four children loved to read. As they grew, the usual bed time contained these words, “If you go to bed early, you can read for awhile.” They raced to bed. I often wondered if they learned to read because their Mom and Dad read so much. My husband also loved to read.
Teaching school brought a plethora of textual materials to be read. Summer was the time to read the good stuff. In 1997, I retired from teaching, and began reading with a ferocious appetite. One book at the public library was recommended. I read 4 pages and counted about 15 words I did not want to read — words outside my usual vocabulary. I took the book back. What a blessing to go to our church library and find a current fiction library. Yes, my goal is still the same. I have read many of the books. My favorite authors are Robin Hatcher, Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, Michael Phillips, to name a few. Currently I am reading one of Philip Gulley’s books on Harmony, having just finished Driving Lessons by William Kritlow.
If you haven’t read a book lately, jump into the pages of a book, but don’t forget to come up for air. Writers have a way of swallowing a person whole!