Do you remember the first book you ever read? Mine was “Little House On The Prairie.” My aunt, Ruth, gave it to me for my birthday when I was in fourth grade. It was the first hardcover novel type book I owned. My brother and I had a hundred or so comic books but I don’t count them as books although they did help us read.

So, how did you gain your appetite for reading? My parents loved to read but we didn’t have many books around the house. My parents subscribed to several magazines like 'Saturday Evening Post" and we always had a newspaper or two. My brother and I subscribed to "Boys Life" magazine, probably the best magazine available to boys at the time.

Many of us can thank our teachers for influencing our reading habits. My fourth-grade teacher read to us daily. She not only was a good reader but she put emotion into her reading. The first book she read to us is still my favorite of all books: “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” I can still hear her reading, “‘Tom!’ No answer. ‘Tom!’ No answer. ‘Tom!’ No answer. ‘What’s gone with that boy? I wonder? You Tom”! No answer.”

Our teacher, Miss Barslow, had a way with words. It was like you were seeing a movie with all of the actors. After she read "Tom Sawyer" to us, she read "Penrod and Sam" and then many of the "Trixie Belden" mystery books. Everyone enjoyed hearing her read. It was the best time of the day. So, thank you, Miss Barslow, for instilling in me an appetite for reading.

My uncle, Roger, owned a copy of "Tom Sawyer," which I borrowed it from his personal library. I still have it today with his name, Roger Eggers, on the inside. I want you to know, Roger, that I have kept good care of it for the last 65 years or so. How much do you charge for overdue books?

Since I came from a small school, about 30 kids in each grade, we didn’t have a school library. Each classroom teacher had their own personal library, which did not consist of many books. Wouldn’t my teachers have been happy to go to a book sale like The Friends of the Library have each year?

I was telling Kathy that if we ever wanted to open a bookstore, just go to the library book sale and buy them out and start your own book store. On the last day of the sale, you could buy a whole bag full for a buck. I have said this before, there is no excuse for parents not to have books in their homes.

There isn’t a room in our house that doesn’t have books in it. If I were to read all of the books we own, it would take me a couple of lifetimes. So, why have so many books? For me they give me comfort, peace of mind, security, warmth and, of course, knowledge, which should be our quest from the moment we are born.

I get quite a bit of my research for articles from the Internet. It’s so quick. It’s like having an entire public library in your pocket. Still, there is nothing like holding a book in your hand, sitting down in a comfortable chair on a rainy day or any day, with a glass of ice cold lemonade nearby and read and just get lost in a book.

I especially enjoy going to my office, sitting in an old rocking chair with a copy of some poetry book, probably James Whitcomb Riley, and sit back and relax and try to understand the meaning of the poem and what the poet was trying to say to the reader. Poetry makes you think and when you understand it, it’s like solving a brain teaser puzzle.

I am currently reading Stephen King’s “The Outsider.” I am half way through it and it reads more like a crime solver mystery book than the kind of nightmarish book that King usually writes. I recommend it. As they say, “It’s hard to put down.”

I was teaching a class in reading and writing at the Red Lake Nation College this spring. Although we had one book to read as a class, I brought along a myriad of books for us to look through. In that pile of books was a book written in the 1700s. Did you ever hold a book in your hand that was nearly 300 to 400 years old? I especially like to smell old books. I hope to get a clue as to where this book has been, who held it in their hands, how did it happen to get here, and did anyone ever hold it and think the same things I was thinking?

It seems like everyone is writing a book these days, which is exactly what I told my class. Anyone can write a book. You learn to write by writing and you learn to read by reading. Eventually everything begins to make sense. I am sure reading all of those comic books for many years helped me read "Tom Sawyer." Of course, Miss Barslow helped, too.

With the anniversary of the moon landing on July 20 of 1969, if you had to take one book to the moon to read, what would it be? For me it would be hard to top "Tom Sawyer" and, maybe, just maybe, I would hide a small copy of James Whitcomb Riley’s poems in my back pocket. What book would you take?

Riddle: What did the waiter say when the customer showed him a cockroach in his soup? (We ran out of flies.) Reading can make us chuckle and we all need a good chuckle now and then.

100 percent graduation

A local movement is underway to ensure the area has a 100 percent high school graduation rate. When children can read well they are more likely to graduate. Help children read by:

  • Having lots of books at home.

  • Giving books to your children as gifts.

  • Taking out a library card.