It’s Read Across America Day, and I salute the occasion by recalling the title of the very first book I can remember reading at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, All About Dinosaurs. The book was red and yellow, and the illustrations, I recall, were quite-lifelike line drawings of the various dinosaurs. They scared me to death. But there was something wonderful about that little library–its cleanliness, the books (so many of them), slotted in easy-to-reach shelves, just waiting to be picked. Although the reasons behind the feeling escape me now, I couldn’t wait for Library Day each week (a Wednesday, I think). I give credit to Mrs. Dodge and Mrs. Cavell and especially to Mrs. Elizabeth Powell–a lover of books and baseball and all things important to boys and girls–for teaching me and my classmates to read, to listen to the sounds of words as much as we paid attention to the letters, and to value our time with books as much as we possibly could. Were they alive today, they would be pleased, I believe, with the impact of their teaching on all of our lives.
Read, my friends. Read as much and as widely as you can. Read what pleases you. Read what provokes you. Read to know. It’s true that there’s a wide world out there, and we must live in it and keep up with the news. But we have sound bites for most of it. Books offer us far more, as anybody in television will tell you. Why settle for any sound bite when a book puts an entire symphony of knowledge and experience at your fingertips?