If you have had any involvement in education, you are most likely aware that March 2nd is the birthday of Dr. Seuss. To annually mark this occasion, the nation’s education system celebrates his gift of innovative children’s literature by observing “Read Across America.” This year, I will be observing this event by attending a read-a-long at Alta Loma Elementary School where I will also be judging Dr. Seuss themed creations. I am really excited to be hanging out with some young, developing readers.
Personally, I love to read. I began this passion at a young age. I remember the first Dr. Seuss books that caught my interest and encouraged my early reading skills:
I would read them over and over and over again until I knew them by heart. I wasn’t too sure of the illustrations; they were a tad scary for my liking. But I loved the rhymes and the original language that Dr. Seuss invented.
As I got older and my taste in books matured, I began purchasing books for my own library. I would always participate in the monthly book sales sponsored at school through the leaflets that went home. Instead of buying candy or trinkets with my babysitting or chore money, I would take my earnings and ride my bike up my street three blocks, then cross busy Laurel Canyon
Boulevard to our neighborhood bookstore, Dutton’s Books. There, I would comb the shelves, reading every title, until I settled on a special volume to purchase, take back home, and devour.
If I was short on cash, I would hop on my bike and I would peddle to the Studio City Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Once inside those magical walls, I would ask the librarian for suggestions or investigate the book displays for possible reading ideas. If I still couldn’t settle on anything, I would just start going through the card catalog (do you remember the card catalog?) and stop at a title with a description that sounded inviting. How I loved to curl up and get lost in a good book. That love affair has stayed with me to this day. I still find great joy in purchasing a book on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble or checking one out at the local library.
I am one of those fully concentrating type of readers. When I read, I become so engrossed in the story that I don’t notice anything else going on around me. I read from cover to cover, not missing one single word. And no way would I ever spoil the ending by taking a quick peek. I follow the entire plot from start to finish.
I am a reader of many genres. I like to mix it up to expand my reading perimeters. Fiction to non-fiction; biographies to autobiographies; historical fiction to documentaries and even satire. The only genres I don’t particularly care for are fantasy and futurama. Those kind of stories have just never interested me.
Since I am a pretty busy gal, I don’t have a whole lot of time to read. At least not as much as I would like to and not feel guilty. I usually will try to read a couple of chapters before I go to bed each night. Unfortunately, this draws out the length of time it takes to finish a book, but for now, that is the best I can do.
I recently discovered Good Reads, an on-line reading source where you can keep track of the books you have read, mark books that you want to read in the future, share recommendations with your friends and see what they are reading as well. It is a great way to stay current with your reading and is a wonderful sharing house for all things literary.
While my children were growing up, it was important for me to model to
them how vital reading is to a balanced life. I began their libraries at an early age, joining book-by-mail clubs to get discounts on childhood classics. Always included in the selections were Disney and Dr. Suess treasures that quickly became my children’s favorites. We purchased books at school through the take home flyers or at book fairs. I was a sucker when it came to buying books for my kids and often blew the monthly budget on purchasing reading material. We joined the summer reading club at the library and enjoyed passing by the long, hot vacation with those activities. I also started a new tradition for our family of making sure that every year for Christmas, each of my children had a new book under the tree. I have decided to continue that tradition with my grandchildren as I now move on to the next generation of readers. My “Grammie Library” is already growing, thanks to some contributions from dear friends and my insatiable desire to keep buying wonderful, fabulous books.
Reading is a great way to cultivate imagination and to keep our aging brains fresh. Thank you Dr. Seuss for leaving the legacy of the importance of reading in our lives.