Googling the above phrase will fill your screen with dozens, hundreds actually, of titillating stories. Most are written by women who talk about their dreaded marriage not working and how her passionate affair is keeping her sane.
I have recently realized I won’t live long enough to read the unread books I own. I’m trying to make more time in my life for my passionate endeavor.
Last week I was complaining about my second graders I tutor in a volunteer reading program. I was actually ranting about their parents and the obvious lack of time spent reading to them at home.
I thought about my childhood and what made me love to read and have good reading skills by the time I was in kindergarten. I rode the city bus by myself to kindergarten, half days in the morning. When the session was over at noon, I walked a block down to the huge public library and checked out a book or two, walked back to the bus stop and rode the bus home. The bus stop was in front of my house. My mom put me on the bus and was waiting when I got off the bus. The bus driver always watched over me so it was no big deal.
The reading was a big deal. How did I learn to read by kindergarten? I tried to remember my pre-school days and how did it happen. Then it hit me. Memories flooded over me when I remember Sunday morning radio. Pre-television days. WGN, Chicago.
That radio station was owned by the Chicago Tribune. The call letters stood for “World’s Greatest Newspaper.” WGN has 50,000 watts and their positioning in the middle of the country somehow gives them unbelievable coverage. During nighttime hours they can still be heard in Canada, parts of Europe, the Caribbean, South America and Australia. They certainly beamed loud and clear into Indiana when I was growing up.
WGN had their own in-studio pipe organ and on Sunday mornings it was “weekly funnies” time. The pipe organ would play a little ditty and the announcer would call out the next comic strip to be read. Dad would have the Sunday Tribune Comics section spread out on the living room floor, next to the radio.
I would follow the deep-bass voice of the announcer reading the comic strip and I couldn’t wait to hear and follow the latest antics of:
The Katjenjammer Kids, Popeye, Mutt & Jeff, Archie, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Blondie & Dagwood, Donald Duck, Dick Tracy, Joe Palooka, Li’l Abner and Nancy.
I remember the announcer would describe the picture frame and then read the words. My Dad would point to the words and I would follow them. The repetition week after week taught me the words by sight and I grew interested in more written words.
Then, at some point, I figured out one of the world’s most important truisms.
“If you learn to read, you can read to learn.”
It was just that simple. And yes, it was simpler times. But the same principles are still true. Read to the little toddlers and point to each word. Use excitement and energy in telling the story. Be enthusiastic about the story.
Maybe we can bring back the Sunday Funnies again.
I’ll be glad to do the reading.