Reading is Fundamental

I used to read much more often than I do today. When I was younger, I read for
pleasure and enjoyed the richly-detailed books of Stephen King. Today, I normally read for
information instead of pleasure, but I still value reading as a valuable skill and
a gift of my youth.

We were surprised this week by a television story of children reading
to dogs. The premise sounded a little far-fetched until the results
of this study showed that children, who read to pets, had better self-esteem and
their performance improved in the classroom. It makes sense in that people always feel good when someone listens to them plus the connection between kids and dogs
would survive even the most boring tale. Reading out loud has always
been an effective learning tool and less embarrassing when your
listener cannot speak and therefore cannot critique your delivery. It seems a
little sad that there isn’t a parent sitting in place of the dog but
it still underlines the importance of reading.

My favorite childhood memories were of stories read to me by my mom at
bedtime. I can’t remember what stories she read, but I remember how
nice it was to have her attention prior to bedtime. I also remember
how the stories left the book pages and found a fertile spot in my
imagination. I wanted that pleasure more often and so began my
interest in reading. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, also
read to us each day. Mrs. Anderson read many different stories but I
would remember, “Little House on the Prairie” above the others.
“Little House” is literary comfort food. It’s also an important link
to the past for a society that no longer observes life a generation
at a time. I would never have received this valuable resource without
books and someone to read them to me.

Many people believe they can tell what kind of person you are by what
you’re reading. I recently took stock of what I am reading, it
ran the gamut. I currently am reading “Grass Farmer Journal” which is
a periodical on raising cattle. Martin Luther’s catechism has been a frequent read with its explanation of rules for life. Another great rulebook is the Associated Press stylebook which is a very complete guide to writing style and punctuation. Finally, I have been reading the operators manual for my Farmall tractor. I don’t know what my reading habits say about me other than I have a lot of interests and that I like books that instruct.

I remember television ads back in the seventies for something called
RIF, or Reading is Fundamental. RIF is a non-profit
organization and still helps spread interest in reading by providing
needy children with free books. It seems like such a basic idea but
it works so well and has succeeded where many complex governmental
programs have failed. This organization gives the gift to children that my mother and Mrs. Anderson once gave to me.

All this talk of reading makes me want to do one thing; read. Lisa
and I are fortunate that we have two libraries within our home. There
is one downstairs that is a full library. We also have one upstairs
that is a one and ½ library. In the future, we may expand our home so
perhaps we’ll include a half library during that remodel. No matter
who does the reading, where the reading is done or what you read,
it’s important-some would say it’s even fundamental.


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