Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If You Really Love A Child, Give them a Book!

 I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

I love to read. I have ALWAYS loved to read. I LOVE a good story.Although my parents were not big on reading themselves, they instilled a love for the written word in me early by reading my sisters and I a story every night before we went to bed. After I learned how to read, I was constantly found with my nose in a book, immersing myself in the world held between the pages.

I also LOVED learning. I remember when I was in 2nd grade, my aunt had been given a stash of discarded textbooks from my cousin's school. She was getting ready to throw them away, when I spotted the pile of books. I asked her if I could take them home, and when I did, I absorbed the information found within voraciously. One of the books was about the experiences of slaves in the United States, and reading inspired me to read more about and take action to support issues of social justice.

When my sisters, neighbors and cousins would spend the day playing games and sports, I would participate for only a short while. Then, I would go sit on a tree stump in the backyard, and read a story. How I loved the adventures of Harriet the Spy, Encyclopedia Brown and Superfudge. I learned how to eat fried worms, and I imagined I was a student at Sweet Valley High. I desperately wanted to be a "Greaser" and hang out with Ponyboy, Soda Pop, Johnny and the rest of the gang.

As a child, I was picked on and berated by my peers. So, I would lose myself in the world I found in my books, in a world of my own imagination. Everywhere I went, I carried at least one book. When my mother took me to the library I would pick out more books then I could carry. I even read the back of cereal boxes!

 
I remember begging my parents to let me leave my bedroom lights on for"just ten more minutes" or "until I get to the end of this chapter". And after lights out, I would struggle to read by the dim nightlight!

Nowadays, I spend more time reading than I do in any other past time. I NEVER go anywhere without a book. I try to rotate between fiction and non fiction. I am partial to thrillers and forensic detective novels. I love fiction by Black authors and books telling stories from cultural perspectives other than my own. I also love reading books about politics, race and justice. But, I will read absolutely anything (except those corny romance novels with models like Fabio on the cover)

I cannot imagine life without books. I read somewhere that the majority of people, once they are done with school, NEVER pick up another book. I cannot imagine living my life like that. There is nothing that can compare to a good book. Nothing in the world.

Right now, I am hoping to eventually be a mother. I look forward to the day when I can read "Good Night Moon" and "Where the Wild Things Are" to my own child. I am looking forward to the joy in their eyes when they read a Harry Potter or Twilight book (or whatever are the children's must read books at the time when they are growing up)

I hope that I can instill in my future child the same love for the limitless possibilities that reading provides. I know my love for reading has probably impacted my life more than anything else. I hope to pass that on. When a child loves to read, they are never alone.