Wednesday, January 25, 2012

“Yeah! Another dumb book.”

Books, the gift you can open again and again.

Have you ever wondered what compels some people to give books as gifts?  They give them as an occasional gift or just gift books for no particular reason (my personal favorite).  I believe it to be a noble gesture proclaiming to the recipient “Hey, I have this idea or this vision or this story that I want to share with you.  I hope you will enjoy it.”

The gesture of book giving also demonstrates that some type of contemplation was given as to content and receiver reaction.  Kinda sentimental or quite possibly dumb luck.  I dunno, it varies.

I adore books.  Everything about them is like a song sung by the sun each time it rises and sets.   A melodic blend of color and texture perfectly balanced to take your breath away.  Neatly wrapped in a sweet little package (this works on techy devices too!! Have you seen the great assortment of covers and jackets-Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about).

Being an admitted, card carrying bibliophile, I naturally assume that most everyone else on the planet shares this same admiration, nay adoration, of books.  Throughout my life, many people have made the same assumption and on various occasions made gifts of YAY! a book.  However, this response may vary depending on the age of the receiver.

Now I don’t know about you but on Holiday mornings when you have your heart set on the latest and greatest gadget or toy, the last thing that will excite you beyond belief is opening a beautifully wrapped package with the greatest of anticipation and find, a book.  “Yeah, another dumb book!”  The battle cry of many a child when they got a book instead of well whatever else they had dreamed would make the perfect gift.  Holidaze have a way of inciting unrealistic expectations.  Sad, but true.

That was the case with my siblings and cousins.  Since I come from a long and distinguished line of generationaly habitual book gifters (most likely dating back to the Sumerians), "Yeah, another dumb book" was often heard at various celebrations when a book whose choice was well intended by the gifter, just wasn't what the giftee had in mind.  

Over the years I've delighted in recieving books as gifts.  They usually came with a personalized inscription and often reflected whatever subject I happened to be involved with at the time.  Somebody put a lot of thought into what they were giving me. Throughout my childhood and teenage years I amassed quite a little library and some volumes are still with me today.

I strongly encourage books as gifts for children or anyone for that matter.  It teaches the value, the importance, the utmost specialness that is a book.  With a book in hand you are challenged to discover the possibility of transporting yourself to another dimension, to transform yourself into another character.  It is pure magic in the form of paper and ink, and now bits and bytes (yummy).  Books are also wonderfully decorative and were arranged thusly, before the DeweySystem.

Enter technology.  With the emergence of digital technology and the World Wide Web some children may spend more of their time on some type of kindle-y I-touchy smart paddy device to discover the sacred journeys on which you may embark through a book.  And this is a good thing.  The key here is that they are reading.  They are engaging in brain stimulating activity and whether they find that adventure through an electronic device or through paper and ink bound in a colorful jacket, they are still reading and that is the key.
The key to what?  The key to life!

Reading is the key to lifelong learning.  The written word has shaped humanity since the Sumerians started making symbols on clay tablets with reeds.  And it’s not just words.  So many other forms exist for communicating our ideas and emotions, from music to math.  Each is a language.  Each can be found in a book or a program or a file somewhere and each has interest to someone.  So many magic kingdoms to explore and all are of equal benefit to the explorer.

But I digress, so back to books as gifts. Of this most worthy purchase, I wholeheartedly approve.  Even if they (the young children wishing for the latest well marketed gadget-y whatever, scowl, or say “thanks” in a way that says ‘seriously, did you not review my gift wish list?’), in the long run it will pay off.  The time will come one lazy afternoon when every other toy or game has lost its entertainment value and your child will go looking for something to do, and that something could be a book.

It’s up to you to start the trend.  Let the children in your life see you engaged in the act of reading.  When something strikes you as funny, then by all means laugh, out loud.  When you reach that tear jerking moment, be sure to cry.  The truth of reading is that it can stir emotions and that is refreshing.  It’s good for your kids to know that they can have a similar experience through reading. 

A mom once shared something that happened while reading Charlotte’s Web to her elementary school aged children.  She got pretty emotional during one part of the story and started crying.  Her wonderfully empathic offspring became very concerned.  They said, “Mom, we don’t know if you reading this book to us is such a good idea.  It’s making you sad.”  She replied that she was actually happy.  They were confused and relieved and later came to realize themselves the power of the written word.

Children everywhere should have the chance to experience stories and books and the relationships that they can build through them.  So, if by chance you decide to gift a book to a child, whether young or old, and the initial response is less than what you expected.  Fear not – for you have presented the opportunity for an adventure cleverly concealed as paper, ink, bits and bytes and that opportunity is never wasted.

Until next time…

…thanks for Tripping on Books!!

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