Every summer, most libraries participate in a summer reading initiative. This summer, I want to share my own history with reading. It starts with my dad.
My dad was born in 1929 in Nebraska. He joined the Navy when he was 18 and spent the next 20 years serving his country. He went to Korea and Vietnam. He credited the Navy with encouraging him in his pursuit of knowledge.
My dad read to me every night from as far back as I can remember. He introduced me to Charlotte’s Web, The Lord of The Rings, and countless others. My parents bought me books every year for Christmas. I remember him taking me to the library for the first time. I remember the sound the plastic book cover made when he cracked the book open to read it to me that night.
I grew older and started to read for myself. While he often said no to toys I asked for, he never said no to a book. He often asked me about the books I was reading, what I thought about characters, themes, and other things I might have overlooked. Years later, my mom gave me a box of papers. It was full of book reports I had written, with notes he had scribbled to me, saying how much he appreciated my thoughts and adding his own.
Neither of my parents went to college, but it was their dream that I would. My dad didn’t get to go to my college graduation. He was too sick by that time. He didn’t get to see me receive my master’s degree. He had passed on two years before.
I like to think that he somehow knows that I am spending my life in a profession surrounded by books and knowledge. I am lucky enough to have his words, inscribed in a book he gave to me one Christmas to read over and feel his love again: “The wings of flight are in your soul in your heart! Dare to dream & don’t lose the dream! All my love, Daddy”