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Teya finished the second book first and I could hear her screams of 'Noooooooooo!!!!' from two rooms away. 'It can't end like that!!!!!!!' A few hours later I finished and realised what she meant. Now we had a problem. When we bought the Kindle we agreed she could buy two e-books a month in addition to her paperbacks. (Teya can knock over ten books in a month without breaking a sweat so we need to have Kindle limits!) Under normal circumstances the two book rule seemed fine, except that now we were two books into a four book series, and it was only the 5th of September. I caved in after about three seconds and bought the remaining two books (after all, the limitations were placed on her and not me! I had still had my quota!) Sixty seconds later (yes, the entire Kindle book buying process from choice to reading can literally be achieved in under a minute) we were back in action.
And so we kept reading.
Teya went off to sleep last night grumbling that I better not finish book three before her. I purposefully avoided an outright lie, pacifying her with a vow to leave the Kindle beside her bed and a reassurance that I knew she would have finished by the time I woke up. I finished book three close to midnight last night. And I only read the first four chapters of book four before collapsing from exhaustion. Teya was done with book three by the time I woke and only screamed a little bit about the fact that I was, too. We should both be finished the final book by tomorrow. I know I'll be pleased, but also a bit sad when we're done. Nyani will probably be happy though to have us both back, engaged in the world and not have to put up with us constantly dissecting the plot, characters, themes, movie linkages, etc. For some reason he doesn't seem convinced by the argument that if we don't keep practising we may become illiterate...
When it comes to literacy, it's easy to get caught up in fact and figures, statistics and projections, goals and strategies; to focus on how bad things are, the long term implications for economic stability and the like. In doing so, it's all too easy to forget about passion, about the unadulterated joy of reading a book that you just can't put down: of reading in the bathroom so long that your legs have gone numb and people are starting to worry if you've got a nasty illness; of reading just one more chapter, ok, just one more, well maybe I'll just read until the hour, except now I'm in the middle of a chapter so I may as well just finish it; or that feeling of walking into a store like Barnes and Noble and getting a bit of a head rush at the prospect of finding the next great read (ok, so maybe that's just me and it is a bit weird).
It makes me sad when people talk about children and books in the context of wanting to protect the books, of locking them away in case kids feel an uncontrollable need to read them. I've heard of schools here where children aren't allowed to take books home because they never bring them back - the limited resources are kept tightly under lock and key. The notion of putting books where they are safely out of harms way just seems to go completely against what reading should be about. Yes, I know that libraries with limited resources need to protect what they have, but in doing so, books become something inaccessible, a privilege rather than a right. And if, when children finally get their hands on a book, they're confronted with something uninspiring, then they must really wonder what all the fuss is about. If I had access to a wealth of books I wouldn't start a library, I'd go out into the street and give them away, put them in the hands of children walking past, children in markets, children on the street. And maybe one or two of those children would be inspired to keep reading.
I despair too of people who say that their children don't like reading. I cannot and will not ever believe that you can't find the book that will snag that child's imagination, that will make a child's eyes fill with wonder, make them want to sneak a torch under the sheets and read until they pass out. I've spent many long hours in book stores and libraries over the last few years and am constantly amazed by the variety and quality of children's books out there. In my next life I am going to find a way to make a career out of matching books to children (without being a librarian...) Until then, I'll just have to bask in the knowledge that I personally have one well-matched book and child combination at the moment.
And so, on this, International Literacy Day, we've given over to the passion of reading. This afternoon was declared work free and Teya got permission to spend the afternoon curled up on the bed reading (not that that really is unusual for her, but in keeping with the day, it seemed an appropriate thing to do.)
For the most part, I've been working upstairs in my office, stopping every now and then to enjoy hearing her read out the funny parts, and hear her shout at Nyani when he very seriously and regulalrly asks if she'd like to play UNO, or draw or go for a walk....But now I'm off to cook dinner. Admittedly it's just gone 5 o'clock, but it's never too early to have dinner. After all, the sooner Teya goes to bed, the sooner I get my hands on those last few chapters.. .