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Literacy Library Bulletin

Read, Read, Read–Because Reading Is Fundamental!!

by Teresa Thayer Snyder

January 2023

There are days I think my mother was ahead of her time. It is not something I understood or even appreciated as a youngster, but when I reflect on it, she made some remarkable decisions. One day I came home from my freshman year in high school late in the afternoon. I was still only 13 due to my late November birthday. I walked in and in response to her routine ‘How was your day?’ I began to tell her about my trip to the school library. I went to a great school that I loved very much.  However, on that day in the fall, I was extremely disappointed because the school librarian had denied me access to a book I selected.  It was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The librarian told me that the book was only loaned to seniors as children my age were too young to read it. I asked her why and she said it was much too worldly for such a young reader.

As I told my mom the story, she said, “Don’t take off your jacket; let me get my purse.” And she proceeded to drive me to our city library where we borrowed the book. My mom told me there was no book I should not read. There might be books that I didn’t understand and if that was the case, there were people in our home who could discuss it with me. She told me there might be books that disturbed me and if that was the case, I could decide to put it down myself. But I should always make those decisions about what I read. I read Brave New World that weekend. I chatted with my older brother about it. It did not corrupt me or damage my psyche. It made me think; indeed, it still does. At that time, it seemed like science fiction—now it seems quite prophetic!

Books open doors and present different perspectives—sometimes perspectives we do not agree with, sometimes perspectives that rattle us a bit—but that is learning. I am so grateful that my mother could see that and encouraged me to never avoid reading anything.

Bulletin - Teresa Thayer Snyder

Mom

I should mention that this anecdote occurred nearly 60 years ago! My goodness, if a mom with a high school education, which she completed in 1928, could see the benefit of reading anything and everything, and encouraged her daughter (in 1963) to make her own literature decisions, what are people so afraid of now? Parents and caregivers can offer support to young readers who may be perplexed or unsettled by any literature they select. What a wonderful gift it is to share that literature and engage in thoughtful discussions about what the children are reading. Indeed, one of my favorite activities as a grandmother is talking with my oldest grandchild about the books she is reading, and what fun to exchange titles with her!! When Olivia and I talk, I think about my own mother and her profound understanding of the relationships that can be built over shared literature.

Read, Read, Read–because reading is fundamental!!

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