E Bay will tell you the book I treasure is worth about $100, I imagine that’s without the corners chewed by a frisky German Shepherd puppy in 1964! The date on my book is 1948. This book will never be for sale, at least by me and doubt anyone but me would appreciate its eaten corners, its value to me is worth more than money. It was my teacher, my friend, my companion, it filled rainy days, hours of snow storms that kept me in the house. There are times an only child has time to fill, sometimes a lot of time. I don’t know where the book came from, who it belonged to before it became mine. I do not remember anyone giving it to me and it doesn’t seem like a book my parents would have bought. I’m also a bit surprised I didn’t take it with me when I left home. Those will remain mysteries.
I had occasion to look for my book, I honestly didn’t think in the condition it was in it would still be there, long ago tossed to the dust bin. Behind some other ‘newer’ books I found it! It was like finding my childhood all in one book! As I paged through the book memories of each section came back to me, I read it over and over, talk about dog-eared corners, this had them before the dog chewed it!
This isn’t only a dictionary, that was only the beginning section. Filled with topics from literature, nature, history, biographies, how to garden, an encyclopedia of information, much of it in colored drawings or in line type drawings that appeal to a younger reader (and I suspect less expensive for production), or an older one that can’t see very well 🙂 In its sections I find bits and pieces of ‘me’. That sounds absurd, but I have many questions how I learned to read before I went to school, why I knew some unusual things for a little girl: like every breed of dog and what the uniforms of the different branches of the armed services looked like, I liked the ‘human body’ part and how to draw people, animals, buildings. This book was like a silent educator for a child that had time on her hands to fill and did find a good way to do it!
I knew one insect from another, what birds my dad went hunting for looked like, what birds came to our feeders, what fish he caught. He would catch and hunt, I would go look it up and learn all I could about the kind of fish, the sort of duck, I never did like the hunting part. But at that time everything dad hunted for we ate (yuck still). After watching them cleaned plucked and cut up, this form of protein wasn’t high on my list of foods! My thinking today is how much I learned, not by instruction but by curiosity and the life taking place around me, the life I was living with my parents and my grandparents.
There are perhaps as many ways to learn as there are things to learn about. Some of the ways we learn of course is by example, what we see, kindness, thoughtfulness, love of nature and environment, caring for other people (empathy). Which leaves also the things we learn by making mistakes or observing less than ideal behavior. Reading has been my escape at times from less than an ideal situation, a distraction that is and was healthy and helpful. I learned my love of books from children’s books, and added my ‘slightly used’ pictorial dictionary and I had my education off to a good start! Books, you just gotta love ‘um! This one is one of my ‘treasures’. Here’s my salute to reading and our treasured books!