For this year’s Library of Congress Book Festival in September, the theme was “Open a Book, Open the World.” This really resonated with me as that was the maxim of my grandfather’s world as well. As children, he always encouraged us to read. He told us if we could read, there was nothing we could not learn to do; the world would always be open.
FARM SCHOOL MODEL
My grandfather was so right. He grew up in an era of large families. Schools were few and far between, so a tutor was employed to teach the children. My great grandfather employed a Cambridge graduate to teach his children. He also built a schoolroom on the farm, so the neighborhood children also were able to benefit. Based on the model of learning he had undergone, my grandfather taught us. He would make us look up words in the dictionary, learn what they meant and how to spell them. He would make us collect wildflowers and herbs and bring them back to the house, where we had to look through reference books to find them to identify them, and so my love of books was born.
CLASSROOM UNDER THE TREES
As a foundation pupil at the local school, the headmaster did not have time to teach us because of his other duties, so we were told to take books out of the stockroom, sit under the trees, and read. Our class was probably the most educated that year as we read our way through the entire stockroom!
I am thinking of today’s children with online learning; the world is open to them at the push of a few buttons. For many, reading a book is a real challenge; it is not something they enjoy. Is it too easy to access knowledge? Do they find it harder to discern what to read? Are the options too many? I don’t know what the answer is as I have struggled with my grandchildren getting them to enjoy reading as I had done.
ADVENTUROUS WORLD OF BOOKS
For me, there was nothing more enjoyable than taking a book, something to eat, climb a tree and enjoy the world I was reading about undisturbed. I lived in these worlds. They opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of a small town in a small country. I longed to travel the world, see the places I read about, experience the different cultures and foods, meet new people, and have adventures. An exciting world lay outside my immediate boundaries, but I could enjoy it vicariously through the books I was reading. Later I set about enjoying these adventures in reality when I became an adult.
THE PRIVILEDGE AND POTENTIAL OF LIBRARIES
I was thrilled when the Library of Congress, one of the most extensive Libraries in the world, chose their theme, “Open a Book, Open the World.” I would love someone to tell me how to inspire young people again to enjoy the worlds within two covers. Modern children have so many more privileges than generations before them and have access to more knowledge that will help them advance in the world than previous generations. How do we help them understand that nothing can stop them from reaching their potential once they can read?
TRANSLATIONS AND INSPIRATION
I would love to hear stories of how books have inspired you to have adventures or go on to achieve things you would not have been able to do without that knowledge or inspiration. Books can help you learn new ways of interacting with the world, spiritually and emotionally too. I found the King James Version of the Bible almost a foreign language and hard to understand. Modern translations have helped simplify and interpret Scriptures in a more understandable way for the modern reader, without detracting from the truth but enhancing it, making it easier to apply to twenty first century life. Devotional books make it easier to connect with God through inspiring stories and prayers.
Thank you to the Library of Congress for once again reminding us that Books are our Passport to the world, both seen and unseen, real and imagined, past, present, and future worlds. Time to get down to the Library and find what is new on the Shelves!