A Dream You Can Hold

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. My parents always read to me. My mother used to be in charge of story time at the public library, in Philadelphia, back around the time I was born, so her reading voice is what all children’s stories should be read in. I remember Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Sarah’s Unicorn, and A Dark, Dark Tale. Mom claims the first time I saw horses, I shouted, “Uni! Uni!” I knew about unicorns before I knew there were horses.
My grandmother was my babysitter and she worked with my sister and me, teaching us to read. I remember her reading us old copies of The Cat In The Hat, with my mother’s name scribbled in crayon in the front.  I remember flashcards and three nights a week, copying out all my vocabulary words 4 times each, in ADDITION to my homework, working on my spelling and my handwriting.
When we got older, we still played around with flash cards. My grandmother had a “Better Reading Kit” for “learning to speed read” from the 60’s. It was a plastic rectangle with a small window with a button release. The button would release the spring and a shutter would flash past the window, showing the text in the window for milliseconds. You could start with small, single syllable words and work your way up to common phrases with 3-5 words. By the time I finished playing with that, my reading speed averaged 100 pages an hour. Faster if it’s mostly dialogue, a bit slower if it’s heavily detailed with minute battle maneuvers.
My family has always been readers. My grandmother told us about her Grandmother Hazelwood(1), who had helped raise her. Born during the Civil War, Grandmother Hazelwood, had been taught to read by her mother (who, story goes, saved the sanctuary Bible from burning during the war). While living on a farm in Eastern Virginia, she believed that daughters needed to know how to read, just as much as sons. Literacy is important to my family.
When I was halfway through high school, a kindergartener started catching the bus at the end of her road, right in front of my grandmother’s house. The girl’s father would wait in his truck until the bus turned around at the boat ramp and came back to pick her up. My grandmother offered to let them wait on her porch. And then offered to watch her long enough for the bus to pick her up. And then found out the girl couldn’t read. So, out came the flashcards and the old copy of The Cat In The Hat. The girl was past her reading-level before the year was out.
Now, I’m all grown up and I don’t have as much time to read. I’ve found that cardio and my kindle app are a great combo, though. I need to decide what to read next so I can queue that up.
I don’t have any children, but I’m an aunt to a little girl who turns 5 this week. For her birthday, I put together a photo album. It’s got pictures of Christmases. She’s the only little one in the family and we have a wide circle of friends, so her pile of gifts was large. When she was 3, she opened about 5 gifts before she was done. She crawled into her mommy’s lap with her new books and was ready for story time. This year, she’d mastered Christmas, but she still likes her books.
Last year, when I was babysitting, I made a mistake. I let her take the chapter book, My First Book of Space, from National Geographic upstairs and select it for bedtime reading. I made it through three chapters before I called it quits. When a 4-year-old tells you that the Juno Orbiter must be going to Jupiter to help fix the broken Galileo orbiter, not just do its own study, you say “maybe”.
These days, I read a lot of webcomics, urban fantasy, fantasy, and a bit of science-fiction and romance. Occasionally a mystery or popular non-genre fiction will find its way into my reading pile. Plus, of course, I’ve got some books on writing and world building. Last thing I read? Digger by Ursula Vernon- a webcomic omnibus about a wombat who gets sucked into magical nonsense against her will. Before that, Seanan McGuire‘s latest Chaos Choreography, about Verity Price, who likes the family business (cryptozoologist) of helping non-human races thrive in the shadows without harming humans, but would rather be a professional ballroom dancer. Next up? Either the latest few Ilona Andrew‘s Kate Daniels books or Lois Bujold‘s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Oh… and I’ve been meaning to read the Iron Druid series for about 3 years…
What are you reading?
0 – Title comes from : “A book is a dream you can hold.” – Neil Gaiman
1 – Where the last name in my pen name comes from.

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