Oh the things you’ll read
by Bart Moss
This week, in elementary schools all across America, students will be participating in Read Across America in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Students will learn about the joy and importance reading can have on their lives. It has become an tradition in our schools to invite parents, community and business leaders, and others into the elementary classrooms to read one or more of Dr. Seuss’ books.
I had the privilege to read to my daughter’s kindergarten class at Phil Campbell Elementary and to the second grade at Tharptown Elementary this week myself. I always look forward to going into the elementary schools and interacting with the children. It’s a good change of pace for a high school teacher.
I told the students that my favorite book of Dr. Seuss is “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” I explained to the students that no matter what your age, financial circumstance, or station in life, you can go anywhere you want to go, meet anyone you want to meet, and learn anything you want to learn as long as you love to read.
You can go to far off lands or back in time. You can meet heads of state, titans of business, or famous athletes and entertainers. You can learn to fix a car, cook a gourmet meal, or program a computer. You can do any of these things as long as you learn to and love to read.
Reading, to me, is the single most fundamental thing a student can learn. Without being able to read, the rest is almost impossible. Reading is so important at any age but especially at a very young age. Parents should always find time to read to their young children and have their children read to them.
I love to read. I love books. Ask anyone who knows me—my favorite gift is gift card to Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com. My wife complains about my office at home because I have a bookshelf that is full and books scattered all over the floor. I will stay up late a night reading. I take my Kindle to the gym and read while I work out. I know exactly where I got my love of reading too—from my Dad.
My Dad had piles and piles of books. Everything from old westerns to biographies to sports books to personal success books. If I were bored I would pick one up and start reading. My Mom also had a huge impact on my love of reading. She bought me the Old World Book Encyclopedias. Remember them? I would sift through them looking for things that interested me. It was just a natural curiosity about the world around me.
My reading today includes geopolitical espionage and spy thrillers, biographies, business management and leadership and spiritual/inspirational.
Daniel Silva and the late Tom Clancy are two of my favorite novelists. Each year Silva produces a new book centered on his main character Gabriel Allon. Gabriel is a classic art restorer by day and an Israeli assassin by night. Gabriel has been able to take me on adventures to Italy, Austria, Russia, Switzerland, London and Paris as he tracks down Islamic terrorists. He is such a good writer he makes you feel like you are on location.
A few months ago I read a sweeping historical novel about the city of New York by Edward Rutherfurd. His novel follows four families through the entire history of New York from when the Dutch settled Manhattan Island to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The book weaves the fascinating history of the Big Apple around the fictional characters through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the Great Depression and the gang riots. By reading this novel, I felt a deeper connection to a city I love to visit.
The most recent book I read was Days of Fire by New York Times writer Peter Baker. This book is about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their very complicated relationship. Baker takes readers almost on a biographical journey of both men. He explains how their relationship went from a mutual respect and friendship to barely talking when they left the White House. He explains, through multiple accounts, their decision-making during the days of 9/11, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and the financial crisis that consumed the final days of their term in office. Baker takes us into the minds of decision makers in a very balanced manner during the most trying times in our history. One may not agree with the decisions in hindsight but Baker’s book does a great job explaining the context and feelings during the time and why the decisions were made.
You see, reading can take you to the center of the action and into the minds of men and women in a way television can never do. Reading forces you to think and use your imagination. Reading improves your vocabulary and knowledge base. Reading can also be a great escape. In short, reading is fun.
In Dr. Seuss’ own words, if you love to read, “Oh the places you’ll go.”
Education Quote of the Week: “A person who won’t read is no better off than someone who can’t read.” – Unknown
Education State of the Week: The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to count to twenty than those who were not (60% to 44%), write their own names (54% to 40%) and read or pretend to read (77% to 57%).