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When she was little she used to ask her mother to read to her.  She loved it when mother read the funny papers with all the pictures and word bubbles.

Then she went to school and began to learn.  Just a little bit, then some more, until one day when the mother was reading to her, the little girl stopped her, and she blurted,

“Mommy, that’s not what it says.”

Her mother got angry and retorted, “Then read it yourself from now on.  I won’t read to you anymore!”

The little girl was crushed.  She had loved her time with Mommy and the funny papers.

Time went by, and after a while the little girl was reading everything.  She found that she especially loved archaeology and would borrow books from the bookmobile on that and other subjects.  She enjoyed reading about the people who lived here before she was even thought of, and before her parents were ever born.

And later when she had grown, she learned to be a teacher and studied about how children learn to read, and then the words brought tears to her eyes when she read them.

She thought, “How is that little alphabets strung together, can have meaning, can evoke emotion as they do?”

It was then that she remembered about her mother and the funny papers, and cried because she realized that all those years ago she had caught her in a secret shame…  her mother couldn’t read.  She now realized that her mother had been picture reading to her and making up stories to fit the illustrations.  She wished she could tell her she was sorry.  She wanted to tell her how much that time meant to her, how special it was, and maybe to help her learn to read, but that opportunity had passed.  She was gone.

Over time she had come to learn that reading was a gift that gave one the ability to pick up any book she chose, open the covers, decode, and understand.  She could read for the pure pleasure of it or to learn, and she enjoyed both equally.

And she thought to herself…

Books are rare jewels, a treasure we can keep, or give, buy, or borrow, and never have enough. They are old and faithful friends that tell us tales, take us places we might never know otherwise, and when we return to them they never bore of telling us again. They never forget a part or passage. They keep time and memory safely tucked away between the leather, velum, and paper.

That thought gave her peace.