I was raised in the Great Depression. We had no money most of the time and little the rest of the time, darn little. Now when I was a boy…..
We had a bookcase at our house. It was ebony black and had three glass doors. In there were a few books but not many a child would read. Like most kids, the first books I read were Dick and Jane and Jimmy Microbe. But once Miss O’Neal had taught me to read, I could read anything I wanted. The City of Salt Lake had build a library by our school, just one block from our house.
One of the big thrills of my life was the day I got my library card. There was one period when I had no privileges because my sister ran up $0.35 fines on my card. I had to read in the library. There were two librarians, the nice one and the grumpy one. One day the grumpy ones said, “John, why don’t you check out books anymore?” I told her my sad tale that my sister had put insurmountable debt on my card that I could not pay.
To my great joy, she said, “Nonsense!” She made me out a new card which I carefully hid from my sister and I never had that problem again. Instantly, I loved that grumpy lady!
I set a goal to read every book in the John D. Spencer Branch of the Salt Lake Public Library. I read all the good stuff first which meant of course, Lost on Venus, Tarzan of the Apes and anything else written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I only bogged down when I got to books like The Robe, which like Samuel Clements (Mark Twain) said of our Book of Mormon, was chloroform in print. We Jones kids taught our Welch grandmother how to read English when she pointed out words as she read the Book of Mormon. I am half Welch so whenever I go there, I feel at home.
About fifteen years ago when I was visiting my sister’s house, her brother in law said, “John, there was never one time that I went to the John D. Spencer Branch when you were not there.”
I saw him there often, Stan Hill, and I guess he was right. I was a nerd, a bookworm, who lived in his books especially in bad weather.
Books are like walking into his or her own secret cave to a child. To a child; there are treasures there, things that terrify you, books to excite you our of your pants, books to provide the knowledge you seek. Books is like having your own Aladdin’s lamp, a genie that gives you what ever you want.
Why not give your favorite children books for Christmasinstead of an electronic game that will do nothing for their minds. You might have to explain to them what a book is. The computer industry has grabbed our school systems and are out to “burn” our books like in Fahrenheit 451. Well, not quite.
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