11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
I distinctly remember sitting at the dining room table late on a Sunday afternoon. While Mama fixed supper, I was practicing my letters and numbers. My dad was in sales and frequently not at home, so instruction was primarily left to Mama. But not all the time. I don't even have to close my eyes to be back on Daddy's lap one rainy spring evening. We were sitting in an orange, swivel rocker ('60s, remember?) by the open front door. Once in a while I could feel cool mist permeate the screen door to rest on my face. It was so warm and safe leaning against Daddy's chest, his arms around me, holding the book. He read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss to me. I'm sure my older sister and brother were playing nearby, but everything else faded away as Daddy read. It's the only book I remember Daddy ever reading to me. For that tender moment in time, he was all mine and we were in a fantasy world of words and wonder.
Growing up, as long as I can remember, Mama laid down nearly every afternoon. My siblings and I fought over who got to lay down with her. Mama would lay on her side, with a copy of "Redbook" rolled up and read. Sometimes I had my copy of a children's magazine to peruse while Mama read. Whenever I see "Redbook" in a doctor's waiting room, I still think of Mama reading. After we moved to Kansas, Mama got hooked on paperback historical romance novels. Eventually, Mama, my sister, Nancy, and I enjoyed sharing new authors and books. Guess you could say we had our own little book club.
Daddy had lots of books at home, army manuals and The Methodist Discipline. Daddy's mother died when he was five, and as adults, we kids sometimes teased him about being raised by the army and the Methodist church. I don't recall Daddy reading the books as much as using them for reference. On Sunday afternoons, Daddy sat in his chair reading the Sunday paper. Under his left foot were the sections he hadn't read; under his right were the ones he had. It was sacrosanct for anyone to touch either stack. Daddy told Mama one time that after taking an accidental blow to the head as an adolescent, it was hard for him to concentrate enough to read a book from start to finish. Nevertheless, there were always reading materials around him.
It's probably no surprise that now, when we go to our adult children's homes they also have reading materials around. Their choices of genre range the full gamut of fiction, politics, parenting tips, etc. Maybe they were actually listening when I said Granddaddy thought you could learn anything from a book (strange, since he rarely read books). As an educator, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know they are all very good readers. As a child, a parent and an educator, I know reading typically doesn't happen by accident. I also know that moments of shared reading between an adult and child can be memorable and pivotal.
What's your favorite book? What makes it your favorite?
The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading.
* "A, B, C, it's easy as 1,2,3."