As Banned Book Week comes to a close, I can't help but reflect on my memories of growing up in a home filled with books. There were book cases lining the walls, stuffed to capacity. There were books under tables, in closets, under beds, even behind the furniture. Any gift giving occasion was a chance to receive a new book, and as we grew older we kept a wish list for Santa, the Easter bunny, and all their pals to choose from.
It was a home where no one said, "you must read." We learned from the examples around us. Reading was like breathing in our home. Every body did it. The literature vs. television war was all the rage at the time. But unlike many of our peers, we were never made to choose between reading and popular culture, so the two never became mutually exclusive.
Our reading choices were our own. No one said, "You can't read that." I know my parents must have cringed occasionally at my choices. But they never said no. What did they do? They talked to me. They asked questions. They listened. They guided my explorations but never stifled them. For that I am eternally grateful. Like John Locke they believed, "Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours." We learned, not just to read, but to think about what we read. My mother and I talked about this a couple years ago, not long before she died. She shared her own experiences growing up, and we laughed until the tears fell.
My children were raised in the same kind of home. And the legacy is now being passed on to the next generation, my grandchildren.