One of my favourite pastimes is to sit back and enjoy a good book. I have always found it comforting. It allows me to slip away and enter into a whole new world by reading through a few chapters and imagining each of the scenes. I feel that reading is like meditation, as I tend to focus on one thing. I let my imagination take me to the places and situations I read about. My friends sometimes find my love of reading humorous. I must admit sometimes I am not all that fussy about what I read … for example, the cereal box first thing in the morning.
I have enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. Mom explained to me that while my younger brothers and I stayed at home before entering school she taught us to pronounce words around the house in English. We lived in a world where we spoke and listened to others speak in Cree. Mom wanted us to be prepared for the English world and so she was our tutor in a way before we were ready for school. Mom’s tutoring helped but otherwise we did not have much encouragement to stay in school and there was no library in Attawapiskat.
When I first learned how to read properly, I was excited and I was eager to read whatever I could find. It opened up a whole new world for me. I remember one afternoon while in Grade 3 when I came home from school and spent time indoors with my younger brothers Paul and Joseph. Mom kept a close eye on us when we were young and so we spent most of our days as children in or near our home. We spent this afternoon exploring our house and went through each of the bedroom closets and drawers to see what we could find. In one of the kitchen drawers, I found a small paper back novel by Jules Verne, titled, Journey to the Center of the Earth.
When I read the title, I was mesmerized by the idea of the book and quickly sat down and read through a chapter. I was hooked and I found a shadowy comer of the kitchen and read quietly for an hour or two. It was cloudy that day and a subdued light softly spread into the kitchen. In this dim light the dark wood paneled walls of our kitchen made me feel as though I was in a cave. The setting was perfect for me to enjoy my book. I was happy and content and let my imagination follow the narrative on the journey through the dark caves, down into the imaginary centre of the earth and the adventures that took place. That book had a real impact on me, but it was so difficult for me to find any other reading material although I hungered for it.
In this day and age reading has become much easier and there is access to literature from all over the world. A person can access databases on the internet that provide free electronic copies of old classics of novels, poetry and other writings. People can also read about the histories of people and places through historical websites or go to online encyclopaedias. Still one doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to the internet in order to enjoy reading electronic material. While I travel I keep a copy of an encyclopaedia on CD ROM on my lap top computer and I actually read through sections to learn about the history and important features relating to countries, regions and cities.
While attending high school, I was thrilled to discover First Nation writers like Tomson Highway. I really enjoyed Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, then later Rez Sisters. I was excited to read material that had a familiar ring to it. I have been discovering so many First Nation writers over the past few years and that really makes me feel good. Tomson Highway and Thomas King are two of my favourite writers and I think they are among the best in the world.
When I was young I was always upset that we did not have easy access to television channels but in a way now that I think about it that probably led to my interest in reading. Perhaps these days young people spend too much time watching the TV. It is like an addiction and not much is left to the imagination. So do your kid a favour today and buy him or her a good book.