Monday, December 10, 2007

The Gift of Imagination and Wonder

Those who know me best know I love to read. I don't read as much as I'd like and I'm not an avid follower of best seller lists, but none of that keeps me from enjoying words and sentences. Thoughts, ideas, pictures painted in prose thrill me more than any movie, animation, or made-for-television production ever will.

One of my favorite little haunts here in the D.C. area is the Wheaton Library Bookstore. I've written about this little gem before. But it bears mentioning again, because it's such a great source for books. Lately, I seem to have a little time on my hands (she says with irony and dripping sarcasm), so I've started working through my to-be-read pile.

One of the books in my pile is a young adult classic that somehow I completely missed as a young adult: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Written in 1975, but set in what I am guessing are the early 1900s, Tuck Everlasting is the story of the Tuck Family, a little girl named Winnie, and a magical spring that grants eternal life to whomever drinks from its waters. So far, it's a decent read. I should finish it this evening.

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I have a larger point here, though, and it is this: I am grateful for parents who instilled in me and my siblings a love of books and reading. I've been in homes that are devoid of books and it always makes me a little sad. In a world where increasingly it seems that children and young adults need to be aurally and visually stimulated at every turn, books are a threatened repast whose ability to stimulate and excite imagination seem to be at risk.

I'm a purist when it comes to books. None of these electronic versions like Amazon's new Kindle or Adobe's attempt at ePaper. I want a book with a spine that cracks, pages that are paper, ink that is bold and aromatic, words that live and breath with pages that must be physically turned in anticipation of the next image. I want books that inspire pictures and imaginings in my mind and my eye that no movie will ever be adequate--nor ever has--to capture what I have managed on my own.

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My copy of Tuck Everlasting is one, as I mentioned, that I picked up at the Wheaton Library Bookstore. It must have belonged to an elementary school-aged child at one time, because her name is printed in big letters inside the cover: Cammy B.

Throughout the book, Cammy B. underlined words and phrases here and there. No doubt these were words she didn't know and had to go back and look up. Or maybe they were words on a vocabulary list her teacher told her to find as she read. I don't know.

All I know is, this appears to be a book that was valued in a home where reading is valued. I can say that with confidence because of this note that Cammy B. wrote to herself at the top of Chapter 6.


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More than any other gift you give to a child this holiday season, I implore you, please, give them a book. Turn off that television and drag them away from the computer and place a book in their hands. They'll thank you later, I promise!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 12/07

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Read with mom tonight -- happy face" -- OMG that melts my heart.

I was lucky to have been raised by parents who modeled reading to me every evening. They never felt it was their job to entertain me. They just gave me good books, and I did read.

There really are too many alternatives to reading these days, and society is suffering from it. Don't get me started.

You'll be proud -- I've just begun reading Anna Karinina. What the heck am I doing on this computer??


See?

- Phoebe

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Anna Karinina? Wow! I am totally impressed. That's still on my TBR list. As well as War and Peace, Democracy in America, and so many other books...

And I agree: there are too many alternatives to reading today. And not just t.v. or computers or MySpace. All of the extracurricular stuff seems to have exploded and gotten out of control too! What ever happened to quiet time?

I miss quiet time...

Di said...

Hey, I read Anna Karenina - LOVE it. I also read Democracy in America, yes I did. And that one is awesome too. But no War and Peace yet.

I love to read; I practically live to read. Right now I'm 6 feet under reading the sequel to Pillars of the Earth (one of my to 10), called World Without End. It's just wonderful.

Read read read read read...I love it. I also inherited it from my family, all of them.

dawn224 said...

excellent :)

I just read your comment at WhyMommy. I luff you just a little bit for all of that :)

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Di: Bee just finished reading World Without End. She really enjoyed it. It's now in my TBR pile.

Here's many happy, relaxing days of reading for you!

Dawn: Welcome! I found that comment so enjoyable to write, I did something unprecedented here at the Chronicles. I copied it and made it my entry for today! In the meantime, I'm sending positive thoughts WhyMommy's way!

janeannechovy said...

Ooh, thanks for reminding me about the new Ken Follett--I, too, loved Pillars of the Earth, and have read it multiple times. Have to say Ken Follett is one of the better sex-scene writers around, IMO.

Holly said...

I haven't read Tuck Everlasting--I did see the movie, though--but one of my favorite books ever is something else by Natalie Babbitt: The Search for Delicious. I own a copy and reread it not too long ago. Check it out next.