Met a woman yesterday who "absolutely hates reading." She repeated this statement several times in several ways. I find myself wondering how a person develops such a fierce antipathy to reading, of all things. I thought literacy was like music–we all have different tastes, but we can all appreciate it in one form or another. Maybe nobody ever gave her a good book, or maybe there is a disability there, I don't know. But it enlarged my tunnel vision just a bit, as I considered how different we were.
April 30, 2009
I admit I led a privileged childhood. Our apartment was filled with books. Every wall, hall and bedroom. Shelves of books. Discards from the library and the schools, purchased at garage sales and second hand shops. We didn't have television but we had our own little tattered at-home library and did the city of Lethbridge ever have a library! I had no idea it was such a singular thing until I moved away.
There wasn't television at Grandma and Grandpa's farm in Aetna either. We had two options–go outside and play, or stay inside and read through back issues of Readers Digest or other magazines. While everyone else was out burning their noses in the Southern Alberta summer sun or freezing their digits in the winter, I'd read.
When I was accused of being boring, I'd venture out and inspect the latest fort or snow cave or stash of eggs stolen from the hen house, but the printed word always drew me back. Building a fort was a thrilling idea, but to me it seemed to be just that–an idea. A pile of rocks in a coulee, soon to be abandoned for some other, better scheme. I tried it a few times. I loved the land; I did. But I took it for granted; I had smelled the wildflowers and picked the berries and climbed the hills and I would do it again indefinitely–they and I would always be there, I felt. Right now, I had this book I wanted to finish.
It probably wasn't an ideal approach to living. I probably missed out on all sorts of real life situations while I inhabited the printed world, and I understand why other children and adults prefer to experience the world in a more tangible way, but I cannot imagine hating to read. Actually hating it.
Am I teaching my children to love reading? Providing enough variety that they are able to find something they love to read? As a child, I'd read anything–the backs of cereal boxes and the advertisements glued up around the top of the city buses, anything, everything. Egad. What if when my children say there is nothing to read, they aren't just pouting or out of sorts? We need a library–a real library with millions of titles and big silent stacks to get lost in. Why in all the world, did a little town (population maybe fifty or sixty thousand when I was a child?) like Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada have a library that vast? Am I remembering it wrong? I don't think I am. Boy, did I take it for granted!