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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Real Books

By Ian Bertram of Panchromatica

A couple of Ronni’s recent posts on Time Goes By have been about the joys of reading. I commented that my mother always used to say I would “read a taffy paper” and as I did, a memory rose up so vividly to confirm it.

I was about six years old, so we are talking 1952 or 1953. As always, she had collected me from school and as always everyone took home a book to read and bring back the next day. I know I was past the structured readers by then.

Another memory is of picking a reader up and my teacher saying I should take a “proper” book instead, which of course I did - very proudly.

Anyway, on this day we were on our way home when my mother met one of her friends coming the other way. Now, if I was a reader, she was a talker, so we stood for quite a while and like any six year old, I rapidly grew bored. So, I sat down on a grassy bank beside the footpath and started reading my book.

I don’t recall how long I sat or how long she talked, but I do know that by the time we started off again for home, I had finished my book. Given my eagerness to read it, it is possible that this was the actual day I graduated from the readers to real books.

I can remember the precise location and could take you there even now. It used to be a colliery (coal mine), but by the 1950s it had closed and the area above ground had become a scrap yard surrounded by a high, stone wall presumably left over from the colliery days.

These days the scrap yard has gone and the site is now housing. In my mind’s eye though, I see that small boy sitting on the grassy bank with his back to the wall, lost in a book.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Kindle? No, thanks! I want the feel, smell, and heft of a real book in my hands, and a stack beside me waiting to be read.

I really like this and can relate to it. One of the benefits of getting sick when I was a kid was that my mother would buy me a book to read. I went through all the Mother West Wind stories by Thornton W. Burgess, the Uncle Wiggly Books and Billy Goat Gruff and graduated into The Hardy Boys before moving on to more adult literature. When I was a naturalist at a nature center, I found the Thorton W. Burgess stories one of the most effective ways to teach about nature. Maybe that's where I first gained by love for it.

As a fellow lover of books I can identify with your story. When I was in the 5th grade we were allowed to take 3 books home and could get a replacement after we read and returned them. I checked my 3 out on Friday and returned them on Monday. The teacher told me I was lying that, even she, couldn't read 3 books over a weekend. I was nearly in tears because I had read the books.

My favorite story about speed-reading is this: we lived about three miles from town on a straight, flat road with almost no traffic in the cornfields of central Illinois. I would ride my bike to the library in the summer, take out a few books and ride home, reading while riding no-hands style. By the time I was home, I had read half of the first book! I still read fast, but not on a bike!

I really didn't get "into" reading until I graduated HS having read only one book thru, "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" at that time. I envy you little braniacs. I just sent to the library seven boxes of my books and I have about 20 still left. There's hope for everyone.

My favorite times were when my mother and I would go to the library and pick out books to read at home. Even when in my 40's and visiting my folks in Florida, I would ask my mother if she wanted to go to the library...just the 2 of us. It was our special time.

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