The Joy of Reading and of Being Read to


Isn’t it strange how some memories fade over time – yet others remain as clear as if they just happened yesterday? I can still vividly remember, as a small child, the absolute thrilling realization, that if learned letters of the alphabet were strung together – they made actual words. Even more exciting then, to discover that reading words in a particular order, one could read whole books full of stories.

As Victor Hugo said:

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”

Jane Austin is quoted:

“If a book is well written I always find it too short.”

CS Lewis said:

“We read to know that we are not alone.”
Whatever frame of mind we might find ourselves in, it is possible to take ourselves off into another world, simply by opening a book and stepping inside it’s pages.

We can be transported to wherever we desire. For some an exciting detective story might keep them on the edge of their seat – as they follow clues and red herrings along the way. Others can plot a whole year of gardening from their armchairs – especially through the dreary winter months. Whatever subjects interest us at different stages of our lives, there will be a book to fulfil our interest.

Sometimes it is an interesting exercise to revisit an old favourite book, maybe read many years ago. There is usually something that draws our attention – that we had not noticed before – and now we are looking at the book with a completely different perspective. I find great comfort at times, by reading children’s books. Something nice and gentle to read at night before turning off the light. There is no shame in finding our old childhood friends and heroes within the book covers. We can feel once again the childhood thrill of solving the mystery within and seeing good triumph over a long forgotten villain. What we are seeking is the feel good factor from long ago. Then we can move forward, read fresh books and create an ongoing happiness by such a simple pleasure.

Thinking back to junior school, our lovely teacher got us to sit quietly one Friday morning. We listened in rapture as she read us a chapter of The Secret Garden. Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Thereafter, this became our weekly treat. I can still remember the days leading up to a Friday. Trying to imagine what would happen next in the story. The anticipation was palpable and through those magic half hour sessions, not a cough or a movement in seats was ever heard in the classroom. That clever teacher built into us such a thirst for knowledge. At around this time a few of us discovered also the joy of writing. Later on, listening to plays on the radio would hold one in suspense. Afterwards whilst working at a mundane task, it would be such fun trying to imagine what would happen in the next instalment. A great form of escapism, thinking of several different scenarios.

The point is of course to take ourselves out of ourselves, if that makes sense?  Not to think inwards, but to think of events unfolding in the outside world. Next time you are feeling a bit bored – try dipping into a book and see where it takes you.

by Babs

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