I have loved to read for as long as I can remember.
When I was 4 or 5 years old, I was introduced to books by a little boy named Tommy and his mother Esther, who lived in our neighborhood. I don’t remember having books at home, but Tommy had lots, and Esther was happy to read book after book to Tommy and me.
Soon I was trying to read to Esther. She helped me sound out words and it was slow going at first and then suddenly, like magic, I could read.
Cereal boxes, signs, anything with words was there for me to read. Esther introduced me to the public library and a library card, and I became a lifelong reader.
Reading sometimes got me into trouble. In elementary school I was deeply engrossed in a book when I gradually noticed that the rest of the class was in the middle of a spelling test. Out for recess I would sometimes bring a book with me and read, my back to the playground noise and activity. I would daydream about being able to read regardless of whatever else I was doing.
As I grew older, I read less for pleasure. With work, a family and a home to take care of, it was hard to find reading time, until I discovered audio books.
At first most audiobooks were abridged, not ideal for me because I couldn’t bear to miss a word, Later, they were recorded full length, and I could get the whole story.
I would slip a cassette into my Sony Walkman, clip it to my waistband and, with a set of headphones and plenty of batteries, I could read while cooking, cleaning, gardening and walking. The magic was back. My dream had come true.
Cassettes were unreliable, though. They jammed and occasionally were eaten by the player. Audio books became available on compact discs which had better quality, but the device that played them was large and clumsy to carry around.
Then, I received an iPod as a gift, and everything changed again.
Now I was in the world of digital audio books. Books that could be downloaded onto my computer from the library and directly to my tiny device. The sound was 1,000 times better than the snap crackle cassette tapes and digital recordings never jammed. Once again, books and reading were a dream come true.
We moved from that neighborhood when I was still quite small, and I lost touch with Esther. I feel a connection to her still, as I warmly remember the patience and generosity she extended to a little girl who just loved to read.