“One more time…please!”
It has been more than a decade since I heard these words from any of my children. The sun had left the sky and most of the lights in the house were turned down low. Their tiny heads rested in the arms of a pillow. The soft blankets pulled up their chins.
“One more time, Daddy, please read the story just one more time.”
I could hear fatigue in their small voice. I could see the brightness in their eyes dimming. Hiding behind their plea was a yawn waiting to escape. And yet they longed to hear the story again.
The stories were of Jack and the magical beans, or a hooded girl and her adventure to grandma’s house. Sometimes the story was about the city under the sea or a girl with golden locks. And certainly Dr. Seuss was a constant bedtime companion. So many stories demanding to be told “one more time”.
To be read.
Once upon a time we read books. Today we read posts, blogs, comments…or nothing at all. Words have been replaced by emoticons or pictures. Pages of a book…oh how I loved the smell of a brand new book…have been replaced by electronic screens. We no longer experience the crispness of new pages being turned for the first time; we no longer mark our spot with a turned dog ear or a well-worn book marker.
In the not too distant past (about six months ago now), my grandson, Logan, brought back to me the joy of reading a book to a loved one. Less than two years old, the book shelf could barely contain all the books his mother had gifted to him. The end of many hard days was eased for me when Logan would toddle over to my chair, holding a book in his tiny hands, asking in baby talk to invade my space and read him a story. An invasion I welcomed with love and joy in my heart.
But that too has all but become a memory. Logan has discovered the electronic world we now live in. A tablet has replaced the books. Videos of Choo- Choo trains or dinosaurs are now the prize he cries for. He only needs me to push the right button…something he will no doubt soon learn to do himself.
His books remain still and silent, stacked one upon another, all but forgotten.
Once upon a time we read books. Real books. Books with hard or soft covers. Books with pages containing the words of the storyteller. When the last page had been read the book earned a special place on the shelf, waiting to be read again and again. Other books I read demanded I share them with someone else because the story was so alive that it would be sinful to place it upon a shelf.
I don’t consider myself a storyteller…not yet. It is my life’s goal to reach this level of authorship. If you look to the right you will see links that will lead you to a place where you could purchase any of my books. I promote my books through social media. Between Facebook and Twitter I have a few hundred friends. And each of you have hundreds more. So exposure to my books, although not grand, should be sufficient to reach hundreds if not thousands of readers. And yet sales of my books, combined, remains sadly in double digits.
This bothered me for some time on a personal level. But then I began to wonder if this lack of interest extended beyond my collection. Do people read books anymore? The possibility that the answer to this simple question was “No” bothered me even more.
Ray Bradbury, one of the best storytellers ever, told the story of a society without books, Fahrenheit 451. In his story ownership of books was outlawed; possession of a book was met by “firemen”. And although we do not live in his dystopian society, if we are not careful the end results may be the same…a world without books.
I hope you will consider reading one of my stories. If not, that is okay. But I encourage you to take trip to your local book store (before they are gone too) and hold a book in your hands. Open the pages and hear their song, inhale and enjoy the aroma. Travel to a new world, even for just a short time.
Once upon a time…
Oh to read those words….One more time.