Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday book request

Today I am writing about the book I want as a holiday gift. It’s not straightforward. When I was a child, my dad was a schoolteacher in a small town in Texas. He loved the job, but eventually realized his family would always be poor living on the salary of a small-town teacher. So he moved on to the corporate world.

But this is not a post about money--it’s about the value of reading. No matter how poor we were, my parents always managed to find the funds to buy books. We also went to the library, and I have fond memories of feeling awestruck when I went into rooms filled with books. But I also remember my mother getting books in the mail. I never thought about where they came from, but I assume she belonged to a book-of-the-month club. Precious funds spent on books. I still have some of those books.

This may explain why I begged my daddy to teach me to read before I started school. And this man, a World War II veteran, still in his 20s, with a wife and two small children, working full time AND going to college on the GI bill found time to teach me. After that I read everything I could get my hands on, and at Christmas I received books. Yes, I still have those, too. When I was six I got the Nancy Drew book The Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion. It may be no exaggeration to say that I read that book thirty times. As much as I loved going to the library, there was nothing quite like owning a book.

These days I buy whatever books I want. The one I can’t wait to buy now is Tim Hallinan’s Fields Where They Lay, which has gotten raves from every direction. I tried to buy it at a bookstore yesterday, and they didn’t have it. It isn’t as if I have to have it today. I have at least 500 books in my to-be-read piles. But where books are concerned, I’m greedy.

So here’s what I want this holiday season: I want children who can’t afford books to get them. Many may say, “Oh, but they need food and clothing and shelter.” I hope they get that, too. But feeding the imagination is just a small step below feeding the body. I want children everywhere to be able to read and to have the books they need.

So if you are reading this and are so inclined, here is a website where you can choose a place to donate books to children:  

Meanwhile, happy holidays—and happy reading.


Margie Bunting said...

Terrific post, Terry! My parents taught me to read before kindergarten, too, and I've never stopped. It's one of the great pleasures of my life. We donate to First Book, and it's a terrific feeling knowing that I am helping children start their own habit. By the way, I was lucky enough to find Fields Where They Lay on the shelf at one of the libraries I frequent, and it is just as wonderful as you've heard. Now I need to go back and read the last Junior Bender mystery, which was in my tote bag at Left Coast Crime and which I was fortunate to have the author sign.

Marilyn said...

Great blog post, Terry. Like you and Margie Bunting, I learned to read before kindergarten. Most of my favorite childhood memories involve books, including the honor of being chosen to assist in the junior library at my K-12 school. We were Salvation Army "Christmas angels" for four children this year and, in addition to coats and toys, of course they'll get books.

RM Greenaway said...

What wonderful parents - and thank you for the donation suggestion!

Barb Goffman said...

Great post, Terry. Reading truly is such a wonderful gift we get from teachers and parents and siblings and whoever else takes the time to share it.

Art Taylor said...

Terrific idea, Terry! Catching up late here (out of town for the last few days) but sharing now.