One set of books I got when I was a child was the Bookshelf for Boys and Girls. The books thrilled and haunted me because they showed me a lot of glossy pictures, explained to me information and presented to me vivid stories of fact and fiction. The books told me of Venus de Milo and Adonis, the arts, the leaders, the workers, and heroes, among others.
I could not understand much about what I read, but I was so curious to learn more and add them to my memory and to my small world. What I read challenged my young ambition, emotion, vision, imagination, and efforts growing up. I thank the publishers, authors and the writers of these books. I thank God for them. I thank my parents. I thank my mother, who is a teacher for buying it for us. The set was in ten volumes and the tenth book, as the parents, teachers or adult guide.
I have lived with Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” quote. I saw how Heller Keller spoke to the world as deaf, dumb, and blind.
The fairy tales, imbibed in me about greatness and how good moral values and kindness would win happiness and success.
The parables and other animal stories contributed to my beliefs. Between 6 to 12 years old I have taught myself that “In unity there is strength. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched, and about the fox’ sour grapes.”
I have seen glass castles, knights, good and bad fairies, elves, beggars, kings, the sun and wind talk, families, Santa’s concern for kids, and God around the world. At times I was enchanted and waited for elves to make shoes at night, like having imaginary friends. It was fun and how I wanted to grow fast and put myself into fair competitions, believing that a Deity would always bless me or empower the good.
In Bruno Bettelheim’s essay, “The Uses of Enchantment,” it says, “Fairy tales communicate to the child an intuitive subconscious to understand of his own nature and of what his future may hold if he develops his potential. He senses that to be a human being means having to accept difficult challenges, but also means encountering the most wondrous adventures.”
And now, I have a baby grandson (one year and eight months old). He can spell on a computer or tablet. He can read and play with the moving and squeaking letters of the alphabet. He can distinguish the vowels while enjoy the learning process.
Perhaps reading is another grace from God that we should enhance for the children to cope up with today’s life and culture. We will not force or stress them, but help them understand that life is built with love, adventures, work, fun, honesty and kindness, as examples. We will also help them learn that even the lowliest can succeed.
According to Bettelheim, “Children can learn more about inner problems of men and about solutions of his own. A child makes such identifications on his own and the inner and outer struggles of the hero imprint morality on him.”
And that is why children read!