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Read. Please.

1 December 2019

Rachel savored A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick, and considered what she might write in her own love letter to books.

Tags: picture books, rachel read

some of my favorite stashes of books

To those learning to love words:

I like to think that I have a pretty good imagination, but I can neither remember nor envision a life without books. 

I spent my early childhood as the subject of a childcare class in a catholic all-girls high school, with a classroom policy that any (polite) request to read be indulged. Family legend has it that I carried around a well-worn copy of Baby Animals by Gyo Fujikawa and repeated the mantra, “Read, please,” to anyone who would listen.

A few years later, I exercised my freedom by walking across the I-5 overpass to the Green Lake branch of the Seattle Public Library, using my very own library card to discover the world. My world got bigger when I later took the city bus to visit the main branch Downtown. A love affair with books was born. 

Books hold the infinite depth and possibility we see in a loved one’s eyes. Knowledge. Compassion. Anticipation. Adventure. Heartache. Escape. Perspective. But these gifts are not without cost. Books demand our time, our discipline, our patience, all of which will sometimes be rewarded with the quiet stillness of satisfaction once the last page is turned, but will other times lose the plot or conclude with a thud. So it is with life.

Whether you read novels or memoirs, cookbooks or comics, poetry or the encyclopedia, I pray you find the books that speak to you and give you voice, that they bring you solace when you need comfort, and that your world is made larger through the eyes and words of others.

Read. Please.

Editor’s note: I could think of no more fitting conclusion to a year of writing about picture books than A Velocity of Being. Popova and Bedrick collected a masterpiece of 121 letters from authors, historians, scientists, and others, and collaborated with artists to create an accompanying illustration for each letter. If you’re a bibliophile, find a copy and revel in each word. If reading isn’t your thing, that’s OK. Find a copy and maybe something will speak to you, and maybe you'll dislike reading just a little bit less. And if there happens to be a young reader in your life, find a copy and read it together. (Visit your local library or bookshop; all proceeds from sales of the book go to the New York Public Library.)

I don’t know quite what 2020 will bring, but I imagine there will be books, and blog posts to go with them. See you then.


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