Thursday, September 19, 2013

INK's Theme This Month is Life-Changing Nonfiction

I might have been born reading. I was that kid struggling to walk while carrying a tower of books out of the library like so much firewood, stacked in my outstretched arms so high I had to peer around the side to see where I was going. The kid under the blanket with the flashlight, thinking I was putting one over on my parents who were, in actuality, too smart to stop a kid from reading past her bedtime. The kid under a tree, bike propped against its trunk, book bag on the ground with well-worn titles tumbling out, waiting to be re-read. The girl who spent many after-school hours with her mother in the library, as she happened to be the elementary school librarian.

Images of book covers are fixed in my mind’s eye, a slide show of exciting childhood companions. If I was living inside M.T. Anderson’s FEED, perhaps I could output a retinal scan of those cover memories and attach them here to show you, but alas, I cannot, nor did a World Cat search produce satisfying results. A lot of those books were fiction. But more of them were not. Not fiction. Otherwise known as nonfiction, even though that label never made intuitive sense to me as a kid, and still doesn’t.

They were books about the Jamestown flood, the Donner party, elephant hunting in Africa, and the chemistry of a lemon. Some of those books—such as THE LAST FREE BIRD—were written by my father, an education professor who also authored a bunch of children’s science books in the 60s and 70s. I don’t recall that as being something I was particularly impressed with; rather it was a matter of fact. One of the things he did. And by extension, something that was simply possible for a person to do.

When you grow up around books and by extension, discussions of books, you become a literary person. When you are asked to bring a new word to the dinner table, or a topic to the breakfast table—and both of those meals are had together with conversation, you become a literary person. I didn’t conceptualize any of that as life changing. But it most certainly was.


Steve Sheinkin said...

That's an great point, Tanya, that books can change a kid's life without the kid necessary knowing. That was certainly my experience. I just started reading books about buried treasure, shark attacks, and baseball - my big three - and was having too much fun to think about life lessons.

Archita Subhi said...

Hi Tanya,

Really interesting topic and will be life challenging books for the will make them more lovable.Have fun:)

organic SEO services