Do you remember the first book you ever read? I do! It was Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. I especially remember the part when Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn set sail as pirates; floating their makeshift raft down the Mississippi looking for fame, fortune and, adventure.
It was clear that I had to do the same!
So…the Scanlon brothers and I spent days carrying old planks of wood to Van Courtland Park. We were to build a raft, sail down the Bronx River and find the open seas of the Hudson.
I will never forget the day we pushed off. As we left the safe banks of terra firma heading for the southwesterly current of the Bronx River, I looked back at shore and saw an image of myself that I would never see again. I had changed…and knew that there was no going back. “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
After that childhood adventure, I became a prolific reader. Reading has made me an immigrant as it had taken me far away from home. I have traveled the world many times; met the famous saints, sinners, poets, artists’ kings and queens, old stars, and hopeful beginners. I’ve been where no one’s been before. And as I opened books throughout the years…life has happened because I turned the pages.
The best effect of reading, according to philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, “Is that it excites the reader to self activity.” Jean Piaget, the renowned cognitive psychologist, instructs us that all learning is based on activity. Now that’s more than rhetoric. Life has been a consummate adventure; the books I’ve read have opened the door.
We sit on the brink of possibility and this is especially true for children. The enormous capacity to grow waits. Reading can take us there. What better time than summer. I would imagine that if your child would spend time this summer reading the possibilities are as vast as an ocean. The concept is metaphorically rich. One sits idly…along the beach…basking in the leisure and sunlight of a good book…the tide comes in…and washes its treasures along the shore. Reading brings many treasures. Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her timeless classic “Gift from the Sea,” creates a symbiotic connection between the sea, the tide, and the value of reflective thought. “Patience, Patience, Patience is what the sea teachers. One should lie empty, open, choice-less as a beach waiting for a gift from the sea.”
Reading is the foundation for reflective thought. It is through thinking that makes what we read ours. Where else can we hold intimate conversations with men and women of unseen generations? Everything in the world exists to end up in a book. The poet Emily Dickson tells us, “There in no frigate like a Book to take us to lands away…” But you already know this!
All that is required is that you find a book that you are willing to read. You can join a book club, a library; you can even buy a kindle. You don’t even have to know how to read to be a reader; mom and dad can read a book for you! You know…children are made readers on the laps of their parents.
Let me leave you with a quote. It’s by Maya Angelou. From a literary point of view, I think she is most profound. “When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”