Send me a man who reads

Friends of the Library CraftThe Readers Digest…

Remember that? Not exactly fashionable to admit reading it these days.  A staple of my youth, I sat down monthly to read it as soon as it arrived; I loved that the Table of Contents was right on the cover (I lamented when a format change moved it inside).  I could jump right to my favorite humor selections “Life in These United States”, “Humor in Uniform”…. And then browse the articles.

There was a lot to learn from that magazine.  Some of it stuck with me.  I don’t remember the name of one month’s “My Most Unforgettable Character,” but I remember that he was a top executive in some famous company.  And I remember what he said.  When asked what kind of person he looked to hire, he answered, “Send me a man who reads.”

Okay, we can forgive the lack of gender neutrality, I hope; it was a different era.  But that statement resonated with me, already a “voracious” reader, as my mother liked to say.  His point was that a person who reads will be a lifelong learner.  He didn’t require a boatload of experience for the given job – if someone was a reader, he could – and would – learn whatever he needed to know.

If you’re a reader, you’re probably a proselytizer – you want everybody to know the love of reading.  And when you see someone awaken to the world of reading – you experience a feeling of triumph.  This is what some of us had the pure pleasure of experiencing with Rosarito Lee (Spanish for Rosarito Reads – you may have read about it in Gerry’s column last month).  The Friends of the Library just had the culminating event of the program’s first year at the spectacular new Centro de Convenciones on the Cuota.  (Don’t even ask how much effort went into making that happen!)  The Centro was the only Rosarito venue which could hold the over 3000 school children who participated in Rosarito Lee.

There was a palpable excitement in the Centro…. because to these 3000 children, the author, Francisco Jimenez (who, by the way, is “our age”, having migrated to the U.S. in the 1940’s as a 4 year old), is a rock star.  To children who may never before have considered the idea of reading for pleasure!

They cheered, they waved flags, they had made banners.  They wanted to have his autograph.  They swore to never wash their hands if he shook hands with them.  And they had demonstrated their love of the books – by writing letters to the author and creating art projects (see the photo of the larger-than-life book created by a young boy in the manner of Francisco’s works).

“Send me a man who reads.”  Our hearts are overflowing with the knowledge that some day that man (or woman) could be a child of Rosarito Lee.

About Susan Shea

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