Confessions of an Information Junkie

Just for fun since I’m traveling today. This was one of my first blogs and it was posted on March 5, 2013.  I have not read through it so I will be as surprised as you when it publishes tomorrow

I’m an information junkie, I admit it. As far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated by written words. I have to blame someone, right? I blame my parents.  Or maybe I could blame Kelloggs or Post or General Mills.  After all, didn’t they print the backs of their cereal boxes with facts about cities, industries, and other countries? I could escape to another land without leaving the breakfast table.   I blame the cereal makers for my love of reading.  Thank you cereal makers.

I blame my parents most though.  Can you believe it? All my friends had television but we didn’t. They got to watch the Mickey Mouse Club and The Wonderful World of Disney when I was stuck reading Little House on the Prairie and Winnie the Pooh. At night when all my friends were watching Perry Mason and The Beverly Hillbillies, I had to sit in a big arm chair and listen to my mom read a chapter of White Fang or Nancy Drew or Treasures of the Snow.  That wasn’t fair! Fair? At the time, at age 9 or 10 it felt like I was getting the fragments of fairness.  Everyone else had TV, but all I had were books and stories.  I blame my mom for my love of reading.  Thank you, mom.

Many years later, I read to my own kids at the breakfast table before school, and until they got too old to appreciate mom reading to them, before bed at night.  I’d like to say we didn’t have TV to interfere, but for most of their years, we did TV first, and reading second.  They are good readers and love to read.

Recently I was hooked by the title of a CBS News article by Steve Hartman “World War 2 Veteran Wins Battle Against Foe” and had to read it.  His foe? Illiteracy!  Ed Bray from Cookson, Oklahoma said “It’s a hard life, let me tell you. The toughest thing that ever happened to me in my life was not being able to read,”  Bray served in World War II. He was at Normandy on D-Day, has two Purple Hearts and more than a dozen other medals. But to this day, he still can’t even read what they’re for — not because it’s too painful, but because he simply can’t read.  Many people tried to teach Ed Bray to read over the years but they all lost interest or patience until one person made a difference.  Tobi Thompson, a professor of reading education at Northeastern State University had both knowledge and patience. Finally Ed was able to read a third grade level book about George Washington and has since read three more. Remarkable!

Last night I spent the evening with 1000 kids and adults at Camp Read-a-lot at Thornapple Kellogg Lee School. Don’t quote me on the 1000 because I have no idea. But the school was packed out with kids and their chaperones (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings) visiting room to room learning amazing things through games and devices to promote reading. An immeasurable amount of energy and time went into planning and orchestrating the Camp Read-a-lot event and the kids are totally oblivious to that.  Most of them are probably clueless to the substantial knowledge they gained in that short 90 minutes.

I could say a lot about reading and its incalculable value to all aspects of life.  Those of us who love to read and never really stop reading have an advantage.  It’s something we do as naturally as breathing.  To the readers, I say be thankful you love to read.  It’s a blessing.

To those who struggle with reading, I urge you to find a school or library in your local area and ask for resources to help you learn to read, or to help you improve your reading comprehension.

Sir Winston Churchill is credited with saying “Never, never, never, never give up.”  He also said Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  That’s my cue – I’m going to sit down and listen.

Wise words from Proverbs 4:4-6 NIV “Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get Understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.”

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