The gift of reading

As folks rush out to do their Christmas shopping, it seems like a very good time to plug gifts for children that will keep giving the rest of their lives.

Books.

We mentioned last week the wisdom, love and loyalty that can be found between the covers of the Winnie-the-Pooh books. “The House at Pooh Corner” and “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A. A. Milne can be your child’s introduction to the values of friendship. Our mother began reading those books to us when we were 4 years old.

As your child grows older, books will introduce him or her to worlds of mystery, fantasy and sports.

Tales like “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” will make your child fall in love with — and appreciate — animals. For a long time after reading these two stories by Jack London, we read every story about heroic dogs we could put our hands on. What a discovery the books about Silver Chief, Valiant and Big Red turned out to be.

As an adult, the reader will find a book like “Seabiscuit” and fall in love with the wonder of animals all over again. The people around Seabiscuit are pretty great, too.

There are several series of books that have sports heroes who will teach your children that it is important to be a good competitor, but just as important to be a good sport.

Children who read find role models like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew and learn to enjoy the process of solving a mystery. Later, they will move on to the wizardry of Harry Potter. Before you know it, they are reading — and enjoying — the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Sometime in elementary school, readers begin experimenting with biographies. As they study the stories of history’s heroes, they learn what drove the bravest of the brave, the smartest of the smart. They also learn that, deep down, heroes were just people — and they can aspire to joining those heroic ranks.

As adults, readers find that the works of modern historians are also alluring. Before they know it, they relish the works of people like Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jon Meacham and Michael Beschloss.

One can go anywhere or learn about any subject in a book. Your children need to learn the value of those worlds — and the friends lurking behind the covers of books.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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