The pompous guy next to me at the banquet the other night asked in a “gotcha” kind of way, “What’s the most important thing you’ve ever learned?”
I was unnerved initially, because who goes around thinking, “This is the most important thing I’ve learned? I’d better file this away” in case somebody asks.
He explained that he asks this question to see how people act and think on their feet. I was impressed, and he was taken aback when I simply answered, “Learning to read.”
I don’t often think about the importance or power of reading. I just do it.
I read everything — vegetable can and cereal box labels, billboards, signs on utility poles and bulletin boards, books, comic strips, newspapers, magazines — everything.
I’m an enthusiastic reader and, over the years, I have literally read my way around the world.
Whether you’re reading books and magazines electronically or the old-fashioned way in hard copy form, they are a treat.
I vividly remember knowing my alphabet when I started first grade and Ted, Sally, Tuffy the cat, and Boots the dog did the rest. I loved “Run, Ted, run, run, run, run” from my first reader.
I was so proud of myself as I learned to read bigger, more sophisticated words and the Ebony, Jet and Progressive Farmer magazines that came in the mail.
My grandmother kept Highlights magazines at her house and, during every visit, they were my first stop.
My parents were newspaper readers, so I became one, too. My favorites, Ann Landers, Dear Abby, the comics, and now an evolution into obituaries (a sign of the times) still inspires me to read dailies, weeklies and news sites.
National Book Lovers Day (Aug. 9) gently reminded me that reading is absolutely fundamental, as the slogan goes for Reading is Fundamental (RIF).
Readers can do anything, according to Mrs. Mayme Bowles Dotson, my first-grade teacher, whose 103rd birthday was fittingly on National Book Lovers Day.
She said if children can master reading and their first three grades, they conquer the world and go far.
RIF has been around almost as long as I have. Begun in 1966 by Margaret McNamara, wife of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, RIF’s goal was to make reading fun and beneficial for children. It worked.
According to wikipedia.org/wiki/ReadingIsFundamental, “As of 2018, RIF has given 415 million books to more than 40 million children since its inception, and has 400,000 volunteers across the United States and territories who provide 4.5 million underprivileged children from birth to age 10 with 15 million books and literacy resources.”
I don’t mean to preach the gospel of reading and books — OK, maybe I do, but through reading, I have learned about leadership, self-care, decluttering, international travel, how to win friends and influence people.
You name it and there’s a book or publication about it.
This month, help me celebrate National Book Lovers Month by visiting/supporting your public library.
Donate books to children at your local elementary or pre-school, volunteer to be a literacy tutor, make a donation to your community’s literacy program, read a best seller, better yet — write your own!
This week, enjoy National Relaxation Day doing just that — relaxing.
And if you’re a Southpaw — left-handed member of the human race — we celebrate you.
You’re in pretty exclusive company — seven U.S. presidents including Chester Garfield, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George Bush (No. 1);
And titans of industry and innovation Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson, John McCain and Walt Disney — 10 percent of the U.S. population, according to reports.
Special occasion or no occasion, grab a book (may I suggest my newest release, Totally Gracefull, Innovo Publishers, July 2019) or some relaxation time and make today count!
CYNTHIA A. BOND HOPSON, Ph.D., of Cordova is a native Tennessean, educator, author and mentor. She and her husband, Roger, lived in Paris twice. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook@drbondhopson.