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Guest Column

The ability to read is a gift; cherish it

Published February 16, 2007


It's amazing. A cleaning hint I read in an advertising circular proved to be the saving grace for resurrecting a much-loved and toted purse that was grimy from a season of shopping carts and restaurant floors. It was a unique present from a unique daughter and I was overjoyed resurrecting this gift.

As my treasure came clean I began to think about all the major and minor information I have gleaned just from reading. I read myriad written items. The tags on clothes, the instructions for assembling items, newspapers, periodicals, cookbooks, travel books, maps and too many e-mail jokes.

When I have a vacation to plan, the first thing I do is order publications from the location, usually for free, and I go to my travel organization for more free books and maps. I also take advantage of the Internet for more information, all of which is read, usually several times. When we arrive, hopefully we know where things are, must-see venues, local food specialties and money-saving tips.

Another time we need to read is in the area of our medical needs. If we do not pay attention to the label on prescriptions and over-the-counter medications we can find ourselves doing more harm than good. Oftentimes we are sent home from the doctors' office with written instructions we need to follow.

The ability to read is a gift and the ability to comprehend what we read is a necessary part of the ability to read. Those with learning disabilities are hampered by the scramble the brain makes of what they read. There have been some very famous and history-making people who succeeded in spite of their difficulty comprehending what they read.

Being read to also is a gift. We can give it to our children when we sit with them and they hear our words in close and safe surroundings even though the words may be scary. I can still see a teacher sitting at her desk reading Tarzan of the Apes. It was a wondrous tale of adventure in the jungle so far away from the small town where I lived.

Many years ago, while browsing in my local library, I discovered books on tape. Since I had a long commute I started borrowing them. I began to listen to many classics, and there is one I still think about: Animal Farm by George Orwell. What a great tale to hear while waiting in a long line of traffic. When we travel now it is to the sound of the words of mystery, romance or war. I have switched from tapes to CDs because the CDs are quieter to listen to in the dark of the night when sleep disappears.

I have often wondered which sense would be the most difficult to do without, the sense of sight or of hearing. If I could not read at least I could avail myself of all the services provided for the sightless through organizations and the government. I would learn how to read through my fingertips. If I lost my hearing I could do many things but I would never hear the enthralling melody of a Mozart concerto again. For now, I will listen to calming Mozart as I read how to assemble my latest "assembly required" purchase.

Ah, to read is to know.

Mary Partington lives in New Port Richey. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

[Last modified February 16, 2007, 06:53:35]

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