A Child of the Books

Every Friday afternoon, for an entire year, Mrs. Schmidt would sit us down and read a book to us. Some kids hated it. Some kids went to sleep. Some…especially my cousin, stared out the window waiting for the moment sweet freedom would be announced. I myself was enthralled. She read from many different genres. I will admit, I was not in love with the “girl” books. I probably leaned more towards the staring out the window crowd during those days. But some of the books were amazing. The best that was read was the last. We finished the year with Rascal by Sterling North. I loved the book. I loved it so much that when the year ended and we had not finished it, Mrs. Schmidt gave it to me as a gift. It is a treasured possession of mine to this day.

Mrs. Schmidt was not the only one to present me with the world of reading. Many nights during my youth, my father would read to my sister, my brother, and myself. Again, many were read, but the standout in my mind was the The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. It takes a truly magical and powerful book to make a young boy actually want to go to bed, but Lewis’ book accomplished it.

My mother was also a major influence. From the moment I fell in love with books to now, she has always encouraged….and perhaps enabled…my love affair with reading. She found interesting books for me to read. She understood that young boys might not love Nancy Drew (a personal favorite of hers), and that I needed true adventure in my stories. She brought me great classics such as White Fang by Jack London and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson. She found me books like My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. She pretended not to see the single solitary man-tear that fell when I finished Old Yeller. She grudgingly allowed me to buy R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps books. Even if she didn’t like what I was reading, she encouraged me to read, and even read and discussed books with me that she was unsure of.

I have read a lot of books. I love manly books, and I have in part become the man I am because of some of the books I have read. Books opened doors in my mind that have led to jobs, travels, and meeting fascinating people. Books gave me a hunger to experience as much as the world had to offer.

I am grateful that I had teachers who sought to make reading fun and exciting. I am grateful that I had parents who saw the importance of reading to me, reading with me, and asking me about what I was reading. I encourage you, the manly readers of iUMBC to consider who in your life needs to be introduced to the wonder of reading. Buy him a book, read it with him, and get another man on the road to enjoying and exploring the world of manly books!

About john

After an unfortunate run in with a narwhal forced early retirement from his life as a pirate on the Seven Seas, John turned his attention to his second love, Mountain Watching. He is currently fighting to prove that Mount Huascaran has moved 3 feet to the left in the past year, and that one night he saw it crying. When he is not watching mountains, John can be found practicing for the National Caber Toss competition, having staring contests with jaguars, or helping little old ladies cross busy streets.

Currently Reading:
"River of Doubt" by Candace Miller
"The Buried Giant" by Kazuo Ishiguro
"Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel
"S." by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams
"Hamilton" by Ron Chernow
"Storm Front" by Jim Butcher
"Lisrael" by Garth Nix

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