When I was a kid, I was the first born “everything” in the family—daughter, niece, grandchild, great grandchild…everything. And I think that, as a result, a LOT of people took it upon themselves to read to me.
My mother in particular would take my brother and I, settle us into the couch in the den, and crack open a book.
We read old school classics—a lot of Rudyard Kipling. My favorite stories were “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” (how could I not love a story whose title had so much internal rhyme!) and also “The Elephant’s Child” (another musical, survival-of-the-fittest story whose lines stick in my head to this day).
Eventually, though, life got busy. My mom had to get a full-time job when my father left. Those long evenings of reading had to come to a close. I went to my mom to ask her, “Can we read?” And sometimes, even though she was exhausted, she said “okay.” Other times, it was just “no.”
The result? I learned to read alone—and entire new worlds opened up. The pleasure of sitting quietly with a book, of concentrating, of losing myself in a story, privately, was a much different experience than reading with family sitting by my side. I read and read.
Now that I’m an adult—the same age my mother was when her life spiraled out of control—I have my own set of stresses to deal with. Nothing too terrible, but occasionally, we all have a sleepless night.
It’s my fiancé who comes to the rescue. “Do you want me to read to you?” he says.
And he cracks open a book, a magazine, or even a website (once, he read me to sleep reading about the nature of fog), and I fall asleep smoothly, easily—my grip on the sound of his voice gently loosening and tightening until I’m only vaguely aware when he turns off the light.
My mother gave me a wonderful gift—the gift of appreciating the written word. And when my fiancé reads to me in the evening, it’s hard not to feel wrapped up in his generosity and love.
When you read a story to someone, I think you give them a little part of yourself. It doesn’t matter that the words aren’t your own. Sharing a story is sharing your heart—and while televisions break and iPods get lost, reading a book is a memory you keep forever.
QUESTION FOR READERS: Who in your life encouraged your love of reading? How have you passed that love along?
Happy, joyous, wonderful reading!