This post is about the love of reading, the joy of curiosity, and finding a rich, meaningful life and learning.
Little Bridget’s mother, Cathy, read books to her children all the time. When I was little Bridget, some of my favorite, most blissful moments were of sitting with my mother on the couch or rocking chair, being read to. She was an amazing storyteller, and never just read the books. She brought them to life.
Often, all of us kids would see how many of us could fit on the couch at one time. We would sit on the back of the couch, perched, angling for a view of the storybook pages. Sometimes, if there wasn’t enough room to actually see the book, we would lie on the floor with our hands behind our heads, listening to the story unfold. Mom had many wonderful character voices. She could add a theatrical flair to any book.
Any of the selections were made by us kids. We would pile into the station wagon and head to the library where we went wild looking for books. We filled our arms with books about everything, books with cassette tapes, books with pictures, and anything that struck our fancy. Filled with anticipation of our latest reads, we would unload our books upon arriving home.
We would even hoard books, to make sure that nobody got their hands on the book we wanted to read before we could. I kept a stash in my room at all times. And I wouldn’t read my books just once. There were books that I wore thin, reading them over and over again.
My childhood was very intellectual. My favorite things to do were to look up at the sky, daydreaming while watching the clouds, and wonder about the universe while gazing upon the stars. I read for hours and had a great plan to read all of the books in the school library. That was a little bit too ambitious, and I never realized that vision. But I did discover many fascinating books in the library at Griffith Elementary School. There’s one book in particular from that library that I can’t recall the title of, that has stuck with me all these years. It was a science fiction book about going through a drain in a pool into another world. I think it actually kind of traumatized me to read it, while intriguing me at the same time. So many great finds in that library!
I became hooked on the Nancy Drew mystery series and started a small book club at school with a couple friends. I think I even allowed my younger sister to be in on that. I spent a lot of my childhood in Phoenix and Minnesota reading about the exploits of Nancy Drew and her friends. They were some of the female role models that I had in literature. Women, young women at that, who solved mysteries. How empowering to have smart female leads in a book series. Surely I was influenced to believe that I could have a career as a detective, or anything else that I was interested in.
Books are the window to the world and all of humanity. I’ve been an avid reader of everything. Fiction, history, drama, philosophy, religion, science, you name it, I’ve read it. I’ve moved more times than I can count in my life, and I’ve hauled boatloads of books with me every time. They are some of my most precious belongings. I’m not big on things, but I can’t part with my books very easily. One of my favorite things to do is to peruse garage sales and thrift stores looking for books that have been well-loved. In my books, I discovered other cultures, other people, worlds I never knew existed. I was introduced to ideas I never would have connected with naturally. I learned about people from different times, stories of people I would never meet.
I learned how to read at a very young age. My earliest memories began when I was two years old, and I started reading at three years old. I actually remember what it was like. It was a combination of story memory and symbol recognition. I first memorized the stories, and then connected the spoken words to the written words. This was pivotal for me, to be aware of my own learning. That joy has compelled me to pursue learning for learning’s sake throughout my life. It has also inspired me to carry on during hard times. No matter what I was going through, if I was learning and growing, stretching and transforming, I could find meaning.