I have always loved to read. I can get lost for a season in a good book.
Some of my earliest memories were of Mom reading to my brother and sister and me. We'd all gather around Mom on the sofa or the chair and listen as she read to us from some fantasy or adventure. Mom's lap was always a safe place, and I particularly loved it there with a good book.
I would get lost in the lands and faraway places that the books took us to.
Our favorite books included a series of stories by Johnny Gruelle of the adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy. There was "Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees," and "Raggedy Ann in the Snow White Castle," and "Raggedy Ann and the Hobby Horse," Raggedy Ann in the Deep Deep Woods," and "Raggedy Ann and the Happy Meadow." These were marvelous adventures that took us far, far away from the prairies of North Dakota.
I could sit for hours in front of the TV and be entertained by Captain Kangaroo and all his side kicks, including Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Moose, and Bunny Rabbit.
Captain Kangaroo had a special segment on his shows where he would read a book to us. I fell in love with some classics that he read such as "Curious George," "Make Way for Ducklings," "Stone Soup," "The Little Engine that Could," and "Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel."
I learned my love for reading from my Mom, Captain Kangaroo, and the ladies at the Public Library during story time.
The Grand Forks Public Library was a marvelous place, with row after row of hundreds of books. Those stacks seemed to go on forever to this little book loving kid. I loved our visits to that marvelous place, and listening to stories being read and checking out books. Mom didn't drive a car, so our visits to the library were not as often as I would have liked.
Then a wonderful thing happened. A big van filled with library books would come to our neighborhood and park just a block away from our house. I was thrilled when Mom would take us down the street twice a month to visit the Book Mobile. I learned my love for biographies and mysteries from those visits.
Then I went to school. I soon learned that Lewis and Clark Elementary School had a library of its own and the students could check out books. It was delightful.
As an adult I like to buy my books so I can keep a copy. I make my regular trips to Murfreesboro and Nashville to visit the big bookstores. I have prided myself over the years on my personal library, which gets cleaned out every so often when I give a portion to a friend or someone else who has a need to read.
Through the pages of a book I have visited continents around the globe and have enjoyed adventures in cities and towns in hundreds of locations.
For years, a Christmas and birthday didn't go by that I didn't give a book to my children. I wanted to pass my love for reading on to them.
I have had the joyful privilege of sitting with my granddaughter, Charli, in my recliner (she calls it Papa's chair), and reading to her from some of her favorite books. She loves the pictures and illustrations just like I did, and one day she will learn to form all those words in her head like her Papa did.
Now I can download books onto my iPad, and it has this built it "reading light," or lighted pages, so I can read in the dark. Lynn and I are heading to the airport in the morning to fly down to St. Augustine for the week, and I am looking forward to reading my downloaded books at 30,000 feet over the southeast.
Years ago I wrote:
"With a book in my hand I'm on my way,
To another time and another day.
You see I love to read, I just can't get enough,
Of mysteries and thrillers and exciting stuff.
There's so much to learn and so much to do,
So I'll read a good book and do it again when I'm through."
-- I love to read, and I can get lost for a season in a good book. In fact, I think I'll go do that right now. Maybe on my iPad.
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.