by Lorraine Moore
Every school year there are students who ask me why I read. They think since I am not a student and don’t have homework or book reports that it is weird to choose to read. You read for fun? You read instead of playing video games? Or watching TV or a movie?
Well, I can’t very well tell them part of the reason: It is a great escape. With three loads of laundry, a lawn that needs mowing, and a bunch of bills that need to be paid waiting for me at home, I can forget — ignore — all that for a little while and get lost in a book. Samuel Beckett said, when we are reading, a voice comes to us in the dark and whispers, “Imagine!”
So I tell the kids the other reasons. I get to be someone else for a while. I can pretend to be a princess, an author, an artist, a chef, a baker, an actress, a ballerina, an inventor. I can travel the world. In books I’ve been all over Europe, South America, Australia, Russia, China, and every state in the United States. I’ve solved mysteries, discovered new medicines, and helped lost dogs and cats find their way home. You can actually learn new things in any book you read even if it’s not a school book. How cool is that?
Sometimes the students still look at me like I’m nuts — a book instead of, well, something fun? So, I try to recommend a thought-provoking, adventurous book like Zorgamazoo (written entirely in prose!) by Robert Paul Weston, The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon by S. S. Taylor, A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, or the great Recipe for Adventure series by Giada De Laurentiis and the Greetings From Somewhere series by Harper Paris and Marcos Calo.
But isn’t it those same children who come to see me the next week and tell me they swam with mermaids, traveled to outer space, explored caves, performed magic, or got to be a ‘real, actual cowboy on a real, actual ranch,’ all while reading a book last weekend? I say, “Great! Tell me all about it.”
And inside I’m secretly pumping my fist and hollering, “Yes! Books win!”