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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all." ~Oscar Wilde

I have an extremely bright young piano student named Annie. She's eight years old. I've been friends with her family for many years (her father graduated high school a few years before I did and his little sister and I have been wonderful friends since junior high). Annie's parents had an unexpected emergency yesterday afternoon and called to ask if they could pick her up from her lesson a little bit late. I like Annie so I had no problem with that.

When Annie was six, she arrived at her lesson one day and proudly informed me that she was reading chapter books. I keep a number of picture books in my studio because I like them and they fill time for students, especially siblings who come together, who are waiting for a lesson, or a ride, or whatever. Annie let me know that those books were much too easy for her and she would be bringing her own reading material from that day on. I told her I thought that was a very good idea.

Yesterday, however, Annie had forgotten to bring a book and I was trying to prep dinner while waiting for my next student. It was clear that Annie was bored. Adam walked into my studio carrying a picture book. He said, "I think you'll like this book." She looked at it. I could tell she wanted to read it--but it was "for little kids." I said, "Why don't you just look through it a little while I finish up."

Annie plopped down on the love seat and opened the book. Soon I heard her giggling. I looked over at her just as she looked up at me, "I LOVE this book!" she said. I answered, "It's always been one of my favorites. I loved it when I was your age--and when I was younger." 

Annie's eyes widened and she said, "This is an OLD book."

Well, I can't argue with that. Harold and the Purple Crayon was around when my parents were kids. I said, "You know, some books are favorites for years and years."

Annie asked me, "Do you still read it?" I said, "Not for awhile, probably." She answered me, "You need to read it again. I'm going to read it again right now, and then, when I get home, I'm going to ask my mom to get this book and read it to my brother and sister."

Annie's brother and sister are eighteen and sixteen years old. I nodded and very seriously agreed that that was the best idea I'd heard in a long time. Shortly afterward, Annie's father came to claim her. She wasn't quite finished with her third read-through. I told her I'd leave the book in my studio so she could see it next time. She very reluctantly put down the book and went home. 

I knew I had a student coming and dinner to prepare--and afterward, a couple of hours of work--but I sat down in Annie's place, picked up the book and read Harold one more time. I lingered over the drawings and the clever humor, and when I was finished, I read it once again. 

I left the book on the love seat in my studio and went to the kitchen to finish dinner. Later, when I went upstairs to lock up for the night, I caught Adam sitting where I had left the book, reading as Annie and I had, hours earlier. He looked up at me, grinned, and said, "I love this book."

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.   --Strickland Gillilan


  1. Reading and love for good books is a rich legacy to pass down in families. One of my favorite quotes.
    Happy Reading, Roxann.

  2. I agree. Happy reading to you, too. :)