The Lost Art of Reading
Reading brought me so much pleasure and comfort over the course of my life
“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.” — Descartes
As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, my love of reading was instilled in me by my father, who read to me at an early age. Papa was a voracious reader and would read the newspaper daily.
He also appreciated nonfiction books — anything related to politics, culture, and religion. He would even go so far as to highlight passages in the books he was reading for future reference.
Growing up, I always had my nose stuck in a book. It was a constant source of friction between my mother and me, as I preferred to read books over helping her out with my younger siblings.
I especially loved Greek and Roman mythology, Grimms’ fairytales, and the Little Lulu comics as a youngster.
My father only further indulged my passion for reading by purchasing comics for me every week at the newspaper stands on the streets of Brazil.
After my children were born, reading to them naturally became a favorite pastime of mine. I proceeded to read aloud to them at an early age when my kiddos were mere babes.
At the time, they enjoyed snuggling up to me, and it became cuddle time as well as a time to bond. We would curl up together for hours reading children’s books.
Initially, we would read picture books and nursery rhymes. Later on, we graduated to the Dr. Seuss stories, the Curious George collection of books, and the Spot the Dog book series.
We would read anything and everything we could get our hands on. We would read together not just at bedtime but anytime.
We would discuss the characters in the book and use them as examples in our daily lives.
Sometimes they wanted to read the same books repeatedly to the point of ad nauseum. At other times, they would get tired after reading only one story.
I would make up fun and different voices for the characters and read aloud to them with great expression. I could bring a story alive when reading aloud.
I kept my young readers engaged to the point where they only wanted mommy to read to them. They did not enjoy being read to by anyone — not even the librarian.
I recall reading aloud to them once at our local library when I noticed that a small audience of young children had gathered to listen to me!
I made sure they always had a book at their fingertips. We would purchase tons of books at discount stores or used book sales at the local library.
In this way, we managed to accumulate enough books for a sizable personal library.
We would keep book baskets next to the couch and the TV so that books were permanently close at hand if we were ever in the mood for reading.
The more we read, the more they began to enjoy reading. We would make weekly trips to the local libraries in our neighborhood, perusing endless miles of shelves and bringing home stacks of books.
We would then spend hours devouring the books together. I can still recall their chubby little fingers wrapped around the books, bringing them to me for reading.
We were regular attendees to the storytime programs at our local libraries and bookstores. The programs always included a read-aloud story followed by a simple arts and crafts project to enjoy exploring together.
I would make up fun and different voices for the characters and read aloud to them with great expression.
When my son was little, I read to him exclusively. We read for up to two hours per day. After my daughter was born, I began reading his storybooks to both of them.
Once she was old enough, she began to toss his books aside and demand that I read exclusively to her. The poor little guy was so placid that he complied with her wishes.
Later in life, my daughter was the only one who would continue as an avid reader. She would not only hold an editorial position on her junior high school newspaper, but she would also go on to self-publish a literary journal in high school to our great delight.
My son would take to videogames and preferred those much to our chagrin. He would listen to the occasional audiobook and particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter series.
My more analytical son would go on to study engineering. He would complain that he already had enough reading to do for school, so he did not care to read additional books for pleasure.
Reading books seems to be a dying art form; many people do not enjoy reading anymore. Sadly, cable TV, Netflix, and YouTube have now taken over as the dominant leisure activity.
Still, we must always keep in mind a famous quote by the late Dr. Seuss:
‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
This story originally appeared on Medium.