And yet they read extensively, first at home then as part of the national Accelerated Reader program in their Nevada middle school. Students read school/town library or their parents’ books, which they can choose themselves. After they read they are asked a series of quiz questions and then are given points dependent on the level of the reading: “The Hunger Games” for instance, is 20 points.
One thing for which I’ve been most thankful is the gift of books, which have given me not only pleasure but a world-view beginning with my very first favorite, “The Little Red Hen.” I never tired of coaxing my mother to read, one more time, the simple story of the hen who couldn’t get anyone in the barnyard to help her plant and harvest the wheat, and was therefore entirely justified in refusing to share the bread with anyone but her own little chicks. This was a good introduction to Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” when I approached adulthood. My parents read me Aesop’s Fables, which were also a series of morality lessons. I read them in turn to my son, who has successfully passed them on.
As we discussed this column, Lance (named from my King Arthur books) reminded me to include the lessons taught by Dr. Seuss and Ray Bradbury, which we both absorbed and have shared with our next generation. However, he now tells me that his favorite childhood book, given to him by his Navy dad, was “The Biggest Glupmaker in the U.S. Navy.” This may be where the kid picked up a valuable “playful with authority” skill that should keep him from being too impressed by government. I’m happy to report that he just enjoyed David McCullough’s “1776,” which should balance Howard Zinn’s negative perspective on American history that he picked up somewhere.