It could be National Book Month!
I’m not completely positive because when I look it up online, I can find websites that say that it IS National Book Month and I can find some that tell me that National Book Month is in October!
I know that which month it actually is should be important, but I love to read so I’m happy to celebrate reading any time of the year.
In the old days (my childhood), school readiness had little to do with academics. I went to school eager to socialize, spend time with an adult who was not a parent or neighbor, figure out how to raise my hand when I wanted to be heard, stand in line quietly, and other things that now are a hazy blur.
But I have a very clear memory of the moment that changed my life.
The first week of first grade, my teacher Miss McPhail pointed to a line of print over the blackboard and asked if anyone knew what it said. Someone raised their hand and said
“Look, look, look. Look and see me.”
I was astounded. How did they know that?! I wanted in on the game.
I went from being a non-reader to reading at an 8th grade level in 6 months! My world exploded. I had a new things to do in addition to riding my bicycle, watching Saturday morning cartoons, and running around at recess. Reading for me meant having to join the 6th graders for their reading group. I remember being so self-conscious as I walked down to the other wing of the school to join the 6th grade class, but once I sat in my seat, all emotion fell away because I simply loved reading.
I was a voracious reader, devouring any book that was put in my hand. Dick, Jane, Mother, Father, Spot and Puff were soon replaced by Heidi, Hans Brinker, and Little Women. Although my family moved around a lot when I was a kid, I always knew where the local library was to supplement the books available in the school library or the library at my synagogue. By high school I loved both Native Son and Shakespeare. My parents offered me their books to read when they were finished so I consumed Michener, Uris, and Ludlum. I read when I was sick in bed, read at the bus stop, and read before nodding off to sleep.
As an undergraduate English major I often had 20 novels a semester to read, so I learned to read fast (and still do) but retention was essential. Whether it was Keats, D. H. Lawrence, or the contemporary American novel, the subsequent discussion was always thought provoking.
In adulthood I’ve been a member of book groups, joined www.Goodreads.com to both review AND remember what I’ve read and I’m a weekly visitor of my local public library. I read everything from King to Franzen to Lippman.
I’ve found reading to be the key to helping me understand how people who are so different from me think and feel as they do. Reading has served as a bridge to connect me to fellow readers – allowing me to understand how they might read the same thing and see it so differently – or so like I do.
I owe Miss McPhail such a debt. She turned on a light for me that shines as brightly today as it did that day in first grade. Literacy makes a difference in a life. Even with all the social media video and streaming that can be consumed, knowing often begins with and is enhanced by reading.
It could be National Book Month. What are YOU reading?