A Young Boy’s Love of Books

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Our nephew Connor came to visit the other day. He is growing like a well-watered bean sprout and about that skinny — with blond hair and blue eyes that likely will both turn darker as he grows older, in that transient manner of youngsters. Connor is eight-years-old, the son of my wife’s youngest brother. He is a serious soul, who ponders each question asked of him before answering. Sometimes you, meaning us adults, might not like the answers. Way I figure, don’t ask if you aren’t willing to receive an honest answer from Connor.

He came to our house armed with his Nintendo DS and a vinyl sack of high-tech spinning tops that terrified our dogs to the point of hilarity. These are very cool tops that take off effortlessly and have flashing LED lights. They are a vast improvement over the mid-1960s version I possessed. Our dogs were convinced they were Alien Marauders out to destroy their paws. They high-tailed it out of the room, whimpering  and whining. Sam and Rosie are truly beloved in this family, but they are about the two most worthless protectors of the family homestead one can imagine. We would be better off buying a parakeet to watch guard. At least it might actually squawk.

Connor also arrived with an armload of books. He was eager to let my Beautiful Mystery Companion — whom he calls Aunt Hiss because he couldn’t pronounce her given name (Julie) as a baby — and me know what he plans to read for the rest of the summer. It included the first of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, a couple of volumes from C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia,” and the classic “Shane” western by Jack Schaefer.

Whoa. Not bad for an eight-year-old tyke in 2013.  That’s the kind of kid summer reading I am talking about.

To be sure, Connor is an All-East-Texas boy. Besides the Nintendo, he owns a .22 rifle (only used under direct dad supervision, of course), a hefty pocket knife, and other boy toys. He loves all manner of sports and physical activities. But, praise the Lord, that there is hope for at least one child out there that I know: Connor loves to read. Voraciously. And, unlike me — both 50 years ago when I was his age, and now — he can actually remember what he read. As I’ve recounted, I keep going to the bookstore and buying a book that is already on my shelf.  Connor the other night was going into exquisite detail describing a scene in a book he had read some months earlier. I pray he never loses both that love for reading or that impressive ability to recall what he has read.

Maybe he will be a storyteller when he grows up. When he was just five, we were sitting around a bonfire at his uncle’s farm in Kellyville. Connor decided to tell us all the story of the “Three Little Pigs” I still kick myself for not whipping out the iPhone straight off and recording it, because it was priceless. He played all the parts to perfection, from the pigs to the Big Bad Wolf.

The reaction from the appreciative audience — his uncles, aunts and cousins — was so overwhelming that he immediately refused all encore entreaties, despite our heartfelt pleas and offers of bribery. He is a headstrong fellow. I was never able to capture the performance. I’m convinced his rendition of “Three Little Pigs” would have been a YouTube sensation, especially the way he repeatedly said, “Who izzzzzz it?” imitating  when the wolf knocked at the door. Priceless. Now he is too old for such foolishness. At least he thinks so.

Like many of my middle-aged colleagues, who have spent a lifetime making a living from the printed word, I worry incessantly about those young people glued to their mobile devices, getting their “news” from Facebook and Twitter. I hear far too many young folks say they never read books, let alone newspapers or magazines. So it gives me hope when I see a young boy plopped down in the corner of a couch, book in hand, traveling off to a far-off land from the power of words leaping off the pages.

There is a whole word awaiting him, between the covers of those books.


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  • ShaShalonShalon


    For some reason, I cannot see a single thing I am typing. It's like ghost typing and it's creepy... Anyways, I do not take all the credit for my son's love of the written (typed) word but I would like to point out that I was just such a reader in my youth. and I am still such a reader. I go through several books a week and have so many that they are spilling out of my bookshelves and are stacked everywhere in a potentially murderous pile. I don't care. I love them. Reading is wonderful fuel for the imagination and I've encouraged such a love since Connor was very small. If I do nothing else for my son ever, at least I have helped to do this: foster a love for reading. I apologize for any errors as, again, I can't see a single thing I've written.

    • admin


      Sorry you can't see what you were typing, Shalon. I don't know why it does that on some computers. Certainly the fact you read and encourage Connor to do so has a huge impact. He talks about how much you read. Again, sorry for the glitch.

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