âYou donât have to burn books to destroy a culture.
Just get people to stop reading them.â — Ray Bradbury
Reading opens the world to dreams and make-believe, to struggles and adventures. It awakens the imagination; it brings satisfaction to the mind.
Oh what a phenomenal gift it is when someone helps a child develop a lasting interest in reading! Reading not only brings enjoyment, it builds vocabulary, increases cultural literacy and shows by example how language is put together and used. It fosters competence in writing and speaking by offering models for children to pattern after.
Reading is not, however, just for children. In this techno-age of high-speed Internet, ipods and amazing visual effects we sometimes forget to partake in this simple pleasure. For young or old, rich or poor, reading is still one of the best forms of entertainment.
In the hot afternoon, for example, when it costs most to run the air-conditioner, you might turn it off and head for the public library. Browse the shelves, thumb through
pages and when a book grabs your interest, lose yourself in it for an hour or two. When youâre ready to go home, check the book out and you have the eveningâs entertainment as well! This idea will work for the entire family.
Another option is a large air-conditioned bookstore like Barnes and Noble or Borders. Almost everyone loves the magazine section. Pick out some topics of interest, order a coffee or espresso, find a comfortable chair and pore through the pages. If you come across articles you know youâll refer to again and again, youâve found a magazine worth buying.
Large bookstores accommodate children too. They usually have inviting spaces that seem to beckon to little ones to come sit awhile and look through stacks of colorful books.
And what about vacation plans? Is there a road trip on the horizon? If so try finding some audio books that are appropriate for the whole family. The stories should make sitting in the car a lot more enjoyable. The same is true for plane, train or bus rides. Have everyone in the family take a book to read â it might be surprising how fast you reach your destination.
Or is the great outdoors your heartâs desire? If so, next time youâre packing for an upcoming camping trip, throw in a book or two of short stories or jokes to read around the campfire. When my boys were ten and eleven they often remarked that the best part of camping was reading scary stories aloud or listening to them while roasting marshmallows.
Headed for France? If you finally get to go to Paris, or other destination that requires changing time zones; it might be wise to take a few award-winning books along. When an out-of-synch biological clock causes sleepless nights, an engrossing book can be the perfect cure.
Or perhaps youâre staying home? If so, spend a few afternoons relaxing in the backyard under a sun umbrella, sipping a cool drink and reading a good book. This is my favorite example for the word contentment. It is also my favorite way of winding down after a strenuous swim or energetic game of volleyball.
Just as physical exercise is good for the body, reading is good exercise for the mind!