001By:Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb

“You can read me like a book.”

It is an idiomatic expression with a meaning open to interpretation ranging from the ability to understand someone’s motivation to the ability to predict what someone thinks and will do. For my purposes it is a headline meant to hopefully capture attention on the subject of reading. At any rate, it speaks to the presence of books in our lives.

I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a household that valued reading because, at the risk of sounding preachy, reading is the backbone for so much in life. Reading is empowerment of the individual. To be able to read a menu, a bus route, traffic signs, and yes … newspapers, represents the opportunity to become master of one’s own fate. To read is to expand and stimulate the mind, to be entertained and enlightened. Imagine a world without the works of William Shakespeare – “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night the day, thou canst not be false to any man”; or without the great Jane Austen classic “Pride & Prejudice.” I cannot.

When I think of reading I think of the use, value and power of words. That intriguing Lewis Carroll line from “Through the Looking Glass” comes to mind, said by the character of Humpty Dumpty : “The question is  – which is to be master. That is all!”

During the recent celebration of “Read Across America” I came upon a succinct and excellent list of tips put out by the National Education Association to promote reading for all children that I want to share:

(1) Set a good example – let kids see your read each day; (2) Order a subscription in his/her name of an age appropriate magazine and when relatives ask for gift ideas suggest magazine subscriptions, books or book store gift certificates; (3) Make reading a fun time to share together; (4) Check out The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease; (5) Keep lots of books, magazines and newspapers around the house and visit the library often, shop for books at garage and yard sales, swap meets and used bookstores; (6)”Don’t fret if ‘Captain Underpants’ has captivated your child rather than ‘Robinson Crusoe’. The important thing is he’s reading. Encourage it and he’s likely to move on to sophisticated titles as he gets older.”

May I add, discuss what you read – have opinions about what you read. Reading is one of life’s grand gifts. And, to my way of thinking, the gift of a favorite book is like giving a bit of yourself.