on books and reading

A few years ago my husband and I were at a sidewalk café in Fresno, California. We frequented the place during our stay. One afternoon I noticed at a nearby table, four elderly ladies enjoying a late lunch together.  I wasn’t trying to listen in on their conversation, but I happened to hear the words “Wind in the Willows” and my ears instantly attuned. It’s uncommon to hear a great children’s book being discussed in ordinary conversation!

Everyone at the table but one had read it. They were astonished that she had never even heard of it. Then the woman who’d first mentioned the book said, “There are some children’s books that are wasted on children.”

This struck me as profound. Personally, I don’t believe a book is ever wasted, unless it isn’t read at all, but I understand what she was intending. There are some books that have layers of meaning, and depths of insight that, depending on your life experience, will appear to you as you are reading, or being read to. Because children have such a small repertoire of life-experiences, they won’t comprehend or extract as much as an adult will.  But that is one of the delights of reading. You can revisit those books again and again and enjoy them in a different way each time!

I’m so thankful my mother took me to the library regularly. Visiting the library was and continues to be one of my favorite things to do. I used to become so absorbed in the book I was reading until a touch to my shoulder informing me it was time to go startled me out of my literary excursion!

I am always sad to learn when others don’t share my love of books or can’t relate to getting lost in a good tome. I feel like they are missing out on an entire facet of life. Books can take us places we’d never be able to go otherwise. They introduce us to people and ideas that would remain unknown. They change our perception and understanding of others and ourselves. Books teach us, inspire us, subdue us, enlighten us and much more!

I’ve heard it said that but for the people we meet and the books we read, we’d be the same year after year. Relationships with people change us as does the printed page.

Growing up in a country where the teaching of reading to every person is a value and a birthright, we can so easily take it for granted. We can’t even comprehend the people in other nations who fight, and  have lost their lives for the opportunity and privilege to learn to read. Reading opens our minds and opens the world up to us. Reading changes us.

As I think about the Taliban and their insistence to keep women from learning, it angers me. They want to keep women’s minds in small, dark, isolated prisons, like the clothing they are forced to wear. I think of so many desperate people throughout the world enduring war, famine, oppression, and disease who will never have the privilege or pleasure of reading.

It’s good to be reminded that an activity we take for granted is still a great benefit. Having the ability and permission to read is also a tangible sign of our freedom.

Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”

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5 Responses to “on books and reading”

  1. Http://Bing.com/ Says:

    Very good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site.
    Keep up the good writing.

  2. angie williams Says:

    Elizabeth Elliot, Lillias Trotter, Maya Angelou, Amy Carmichal, A.A. Miline, Any authors you love, Betty MacDonald (loved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle), Kris Beauchamp…You belong in this list.

    i love you.

  3. Ellen Carstensen Says:

    Well, as usual, I have an opinion…shocker, I know! 😉 But I agree with you a million percent about reading. When I was young, I hated reading because I was a slow reader and it frustrated me that everyone else seemed to read much more quickly. Through the years though, I’ve found a have a voracious appitite for the written word. Because I hated to read, I am making sure Jack is not like that. We make a trip to the Elkhorn Library twice a month to check out maybe 20 books each time. 10 for him to read to us and 10 for us to read to him. It makes my heart sing to sit with my Kindergartener while he reads an entire book to me! I sort of felt guilty for having Jack read one book to us each night…but he loves it and he already has a love for books…and that is just the most awesome thing ever! Thanks for your blogging skills Kris!

  4. Byron Eames Says:

    Kris, just finished reading
    your last blog. Loved it.I
    reread all of the Narnia
    books over Christmas break.
    The end of The Last Battle
    gets me excited about Heaven
    every time I read it. Tell
    Pastor Les I’m on Twitter,
    which is how I found your
    blog. Byron.

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