Friday, December 21, 2012

Enrich a Life; Give a Book

As I scramble to purchase those last minute gifts this holiday season, I find myself in a bookstore, contemplating the fact that my life has been an amazing adventure enriched by the power of books.

I first fell in love with books as a young child while listening to my father read about Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh.  Later, I relished the challenges associated with deciphering the silly words and rhymes found in Dr. Seuss books.  That is when I began to appreciate the power of the written word -- marveling at how descriptive language could make a meal of Green Eggs & Ham seem appetizing! In elementary school, I often found myself so engrossed in the adventures of super-sleuths Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, that bedtime came and went without my knowledge.  I laughed with Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer; cried with Scout and Atticus Finch; embarked upon adventures with Robinson Crusoe and Beowulf; and celebrated the triumph of good over evil with Harry, Hermione, and Ron in a magic-filled world.  To this day, some of my best friends can be found on the pages of books in faraway places like Africa or outer space; in different time periods, past or future; and in make believe lands such as Lilliput and Narnia.

In addition to reading for enjoyment, somewhere along the way I began to read for information and self-improvement.  That process began as I strove to internalize the timeless truths presented in Aesop’s Fables.  Reading a biography about Louis Pasteur as a child impressed upon me the impact that one person can have on the entire world.  I even practiced my foreign language skills by reading the French versions of works such as Le Comte de Monte-Cristo and Les Miserables.  At this point in my life, I find that my default process for learning something new is to scour the literature and learn all that I can about a subject.

Books have taken me to places and times that I could never access on my own.  They have exposed me to thoughts, perspectives, cultures, and languages that would otherwise not be a part of my experience.  Books have shaped me – my understanding, my perspective, my moral code – and each book I place on my nightstand or upload onto my Kindle represents a promising opportunity to further enrich my life.

As you finish up your holiday gift shopping, I offer you this challenge:  Enrich a life; give a book!

by: Courtney Cadwell, Principal of Gardner Bullis School 

A version of this blog post recently appeared in the Gardner Gazette.

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