Life Lessons Absorbed from Children’s Books
Even before I learned how to read, books were an important part of my life.
They very often provided me with inspiration, understanding of life in general, principles, motivation, and at times my own storytelling. Books were always readily available to me; sitting on my bedroom bookshelf, at the school library, and in the community library.
My small collection at home was always a part of my daily routine – a book with breakfast and one – maybe two or three, if I was lucky – in the evening before bed. It was prior to kindergarten that I picked up reading on my own, and as a child I read voraciously, always with a stack of books beside me, often reading several at once. Each week, I’d ask my mother to take me to the library and when summer arrived, I was one of the first to sign up for the community library’s Summer Reading Program. I still have my brown leather bookmark, embossed in gold letters with my name. It was a treasure and a keeper!
Having recently retired from public education my summer days have been filled with time spent reflecting and feeling inspiration float by, but more often than not to be snatched up and developed into something creative. This time has also left me thinking about the numerous books I read as a child and how they impacted me, inspired me, and even after many years much to my chagrin created a life’s vocation; something I like to refer to as “living life fully and taking pleasure in work well done.”
All of these brain waves bring me to recalling at the age of nine how I encountered a series of books that I have loved all my life. Books that brought a period of history to life for me. These are the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family as they progressed west, through good times and bad, all of which recall a particular time in our American history. These books were filled with descriptions of a self-sufficient, brave, and proud family. The accurate details of this family’s life were not filled with magic, or wizards, or dragons. Just a plain account that focused on ordinary lives that encompassed its own thrills and engrossing tales – ones that were better than any school social studies book, I could recall. This family’s life was so far from my own, yet these stories taught me, and still teach without comment, that there is dignity, honor, and pleasure in work well done.
I have always believed that children’s books change lives. They provide young ones the opportunity to create cherished memories as well as to shape a person’s life. Books certainly shaped my life – one in which I worked hard, took pleasure in a job well done, and never stepped aside from anything that appeared “too difficult”. Instead, I looked at many moments in my life as an opportunity. A time to embrace the challenge and learn from the task in front of me. Clearly, and especially now, I understand how the series of The Little House books built something unique inside of me; perseverance, a positive attitude and a point of view with a little bit of wit sprinkled on top.