“We Shouldn’t Teach Great Books; We Should Teach A Love Of Reading.”
B.F. Skinner said that. I agree.
I’ve thought of another thing that makes me love working at a book store. The kids.
Now, I don’t really like little children. They’re loud and they knock stuff over and most of them are absolute brats. I like the quiet ones. The ones that think carefully before they say something, the ones that surprise me because I don’t expect something that little to be that smart. And I absolutely love the ones that read.
We don’t get a lot of children in the store. But when we do, they’re my favorite customers. They talk to me about the most recent Roald Dahls they’ve read and ask for new ones. We have long conversations about why The Famous Five are so much more amazing than The Secret Seven. I’ve had a kid tell me how she liked the Grimm Brothers’ versions better than the Disney versions. I haven’t even read the Grimm versions! Another one scolded me for not reading any of the Narnias (I know, I know). Harry Potter, Mark Twain, Peter Pan, Jacqueline Wilson, Louis Sachar – the list goes on.
All the while, their parents watch. Swelling with pride.
I remember how I started reading. Every night, mum would produce a new Noddy and read it to me. In time, I learnt to read fluently with her, and we would both read it to my father (who would actually drop everything he was doing and listen). Pretty soon, I’d finished almost every Enid Blyton book that the library had.
My first Roald Dahl was what decided that reading was more than just a hobby for me. Matilda changed my life. The Witches reinforced the change.
I’ve heard book-muggles say things like <<insert situation where you’re getting worked up about something book-related>> “What’s the big deal? It’s only a book.” There nothing only about a book. Once you’re in love with reading, you’re in it for life. No turning back. And who do I have to thank for making sure I was a goner the minute I read that first book all by myself? Mum and Dad.
I know for a fact that my mother reads my posts from time to time. I don’t know if Dad does, but I know she’ll show this to him. Mum, Dad? Thank you. Thank you for making books a part of my life, an important one at that.
To all you parents out there – and English teachers – anyone really, who has been responsible for somebody else picking up a book – pat yourself on the back. Treat yourself to something nice. You’ve just made the world a little better for somebody to live in.
For those of you on the other side of things – if you’ve ever loved a book that was given to you/recommended to you/forced down your throat, and you’ve been wolfing down books ever since – call that person up. Send them an e-mail. Give them a hug. Say thank you. Let them know how much it means to you that they’ve let you in on the secret – as long as you have a book, you’ll be okay.
I’m aware that that’s a very naive thing to say. I know that “real life” in the big bad world is scary sometimes, and far from idyllic. But I also know that as long as I have a book with me, the right book, things will be okay. Not perfect, maybe, but okay. Somehow.