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Reading Books: An Essential Element of a Free Society
Celebrating National Library Week About 15 years ago, I was appointed by the mayor of Nampa to serve on the Nampa Library Advisory Board, and I did so happily for a few years. Since the greatest societies throughout history have had the greatest libraries, I considered it a privilege to serve the public library in my community. I’m not just telling you this out of the blue, however. The first week of April is National Library Week, and because of how important libraries, books, and reading are to a free society, I think this is a celebration worth observing.
Today, I have Kevin France to thank for my love of nonfiction, specifically books about history. I remember reading all about people like Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman who helped the Continental Army in the American Revolution. His biography was one of my favorites. He was a national hero in both the American and French Revolutions, and the French actually offered him the position of dictator of France. He declined, just like George Washington declined to lead the United States for life when he was elected president. I read all about him and other people in my classes when I should have been paying attention to the teacher. Ironically, by reading in class, I inadvertently taught myself a lot and fostered my love of reading even more. I love reading pretty much any type of book today, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. I live vicariously through so many people and characters by reading, and I visit far off places without leaving my home. Every time I read a book, I feel like I can approach the world with a little more intelligence and wisdom than before. Perhaps one of the most important benefits of reading books that I’ve found, however, is that I can learn about perspectives that differ from my own. It’s important to read books with authors or points you disagree with. Sometimes, they might even change your mind! Whenever I hear someone say that they don’t like to read, I don’t understand it. If you don’t read, you miss out on countless opportunities to learn new things. We live in a free society, and we have access to a wealth of knowledge in our libraries that many other people only dream of having. Why would we pass up the opportunity to access it? Even though we have so much information available to us on the internet now, libraries are still invaluable parts of our communities — even if only as testaments to the importance of sharing information and stories.
“Every time I read a book, I feel like I can approach the world with a little more intelligence and wisdom than before.”
My love of reading goes back to the second grade. I remember loving the “Dan Frontier” children’s books. They were a fictional series about a frontiersman named, you guessed it, Dan Frontier, and all his adventures in the American West. Then, one day, another kid in my class named Kevin France asked me why I wasn’t reading about real people, like Daniel Boone or the American presidents. I perceived Kevin to be smarter than I was, so I figured I would give nonfiction a shot.
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