I have a follow up story to my last post about books and why they are holy. I work in a school district whose students come from low income homes. I have really made it my quest to emphasize the importance of book reading so that parents understand the many wonders that books (not I-pads) can do for children. A recent meeting that I had with a parent opened up my eyes to how important book reading is throughout our entire lives and gave me a perspective on books I’d never had before. The parent, an administrator from the school, and I were seated in a small office discussing her son’s individual education plan. When we discussed strategies to help him understand and grow his vocabulary, books came up, naturally. The mother confessed that she had trouble reading and had never gotten to a point where she could sit down, pick up a book, and get totally lost in the story. She wants her son to one day be able to do that because she sees how important reading can be in a person’s life. She told us the story of how a few years back she was visiting her brother on the island of Tonga. He had just gotten out of prison. He had spent several years in prison. They were spending some time on the beach, relaxing and not doing much. He had brought a book with him in his backpack. He opened the book and asked his sister that they read together. She began to read out loud, but after a few moments of halted sounding out of words, he took the book from her and said, “Let me read. You’re going too slow. It sounds like you’ve never read out loud before. When I was in prison, the only thing that got me through being bored and lonely was books. Do you know how much you can learn from books? Do you know what you can find out from these? ” He took the book from her and began to read out loud and she leaned next to him and listened. And she was hooked on listening to a story in a way she hadn’t been fore. She confessed that it’s still hard to read and understand at the same time. A lot of readers don’t get passed the stage of being able to sound out the words (decoding.) Because there hasn’t been consistent practice sounding out the words and starting to understand them, this reader could only decode and not comprehend. And when a person doesn’t comprehend, there’s very little motivation to keep reading. That’s why reading has to start young and start out positive. Books can get people through some of their hardest times. Books offer us knowledge, allow us to question and think critically about our world. They can be our friends and our inspiration. I love books!