I’m 15, Sitting on the fly-bridge of our family’s 32′ Marinette, ‘Five Alive’,with Yanni’s ‘Dare to Dream’ album playing in the background. I’m stuck in a book…as I often am. Partly, for my love affair with reading, and the other to avoid the only thing in life that ever made me act shy… cute boat boys.
It’s late June, and we’re anchored out at our favorite spot on the southern shore of Pelee Island in Lake Erie. Smelling like coconut sunscreen and lemons (to lighten my hair while I napped in the sun throughout the day), I choose to bookmark it and watch the sun begin it’s descent for the day. That means two things…one, the debate over the Little Dipper is about to begin, and two…if I want to rinse off in the lake now’s my last chance before it gets dark. Down the ladder and inside the boat I go, grabbing my shampoo and a bar of soap.
Jumping in after a day in the sun feels crisp and refreshing. The water is soft and enveloping, and so clear I can peer down and see my toes…and the swarm of minnows sweeping past them. The day ends with a good cook out and many, many laughs with family and friends…and Lieutenant Dan!…lol. Feels like yesterday.
Those were the some of the best times of my life. They shaped me. It was like putting down one book and opening up another. It’s no wonder my sense of reality and fiction have always been so easily melded together. And, with no lack of inspiration….scenic or conversational…it’s no wonder writing it all down always flowed so naturally for me.
With my love of the written word, you can imagine how much I want my daughters to enjoy it as well. My older daughter was enrolled in a book club before she could even speak, receiving Dr. Suess books every other week. (I was equally as excited as she when they arrived in the mail box every two weeks.) We went to story time starting when she was seven months old…and now my younger daughter has grown to love it as well. I remember the piles of library books we would bring home each week. And the countless hours we would spend par-oozing through them, cuddled up on the couch…reading adventures and conjuring up our own versions of them as well.
I’ve had to play ‘catch up’ with my younger daughter. She’s fidgety…and enjoys the artwork of ripping the pages more than the full stories. But, she’s literally growing into it…and the pre-bedtime pile of storybooks is beginning to grow again.
With my almost-four-year-old on the cusp of learning to read all by herself, I’m careful to cherish each book I read to her. In the blink of an eye she’ll be in her room with a reading light on…sneaking those last few chapters in after she’s supposed to be asleep. Or, laying out at the beach lost in an adventure of her own. Or, writing down her own…whether from her favorite memories or ones she dreams about. That’s my wish, anyway. My hope for my girls.
Reading always gave me new ideas to dream about, and different angles to consider life in. I don’t just want them to read because it makes them smarter, and increases their vocabulary, and improves writing skills…and who doesn’t want a smart child that can pay their own way through college just by being smart? (Hopefully, more of a reality than an dream….right?) That stuff is crucial. However, what is all that stuff without the ability to craft your own dreams?
Watching TV and movies is fine…but they leave no detail to the imagination. That’s where books step in. They force you to fill in the blanks…to make up what characters and places look like…to imagine.
More importantly, will they be able to wield their favorite memories down into words so that others can dive into them? Or, so that they, themselves, can dive back into them later.
“Once upon a time…”
It’s the only words my one-year-old puts together consecutively when reading her ‘Sesame Street’ version of ‘Rapunzel.’ She’s got the right idea, though. That’s a great place to start.