All four of my daughters graduated from their respective schools in May. Throw in a birthday, Mother’s Day and two proms, and you have the makings of a very busy month that is, thankfully, over (but not soon forgotten).
If there’s any piece of advice I could give them about the world of adulthood, I would stress the importance of never allowing their imaginations to wither on the vine and grow fallow. I think of imagination as the key ingredient in the continual pursuit of one’s hopes and dreams.
As my L.A. filmmaker friend Ritchie Greer told me last week, “If you can imagine it, you can write it.” Not only can you write it, you can create it, catch it or conquer it. Or fill in the blank with your own verb of empowerment.
When I was in school, my favorite summertime means of keeping my imagination finely honed was reading. My family was among the thousands who would flock to Hillsville, Va., for the semi-annual flea market. There I would seek out the remaining paperback novels with the front cover torn off. You could buy several for a dollar, and I remember coming home with an armful of books to last me throughout the summer or winter.
More than any other medium, I believe that reading stokes the fires of imagination the hottest. When you read, you’re transported to another time and place, and all of it takes place in your mind. There’s no sound to create the drama, as in listening to music, nor is there sound and vision to tell the story, as with cinema or the stage.
Reading is a portal to another world, uniquely crafted by your imagination, through which all of the senses are stimulated. (Yes, you can almost smell the gunpowder in a Louis L’Amour western.) Nothing can match it if you’re interested in a full-cranial workout.
So, I challenge my daughters and all the other students on summer break to read as much as you can this summer. A great place to start here in Wilkes is the public library at 215 10th Street in North Wilkesboro. The summer reading program there runs from June 10 to July 27 and is sponsored by the Kulynych Foundation and the Friends of the Wilkes Library.
County Librarian Aimee James told me Friday that the summer theme this year is “A Universe of Stories.” She said there’s a great deal of space-themed programming for all ages, with activities planned almost every day at the library.
On July 25, she said the library will set up a petting zoo, sure to be a huge hit with kids. She expects high attendance for the African American Music Appreciation program on June 15. James said she’s personally looking forward to the True Crime Investigations program on July 18. My daughter, Cassie, should be interested in that event. A similar program was quite popular earlier at the library, James said.
The Imagination Café, the library’s free summer lunch program, began Monday and runs through Aug. 23. It offers a free lunch every weekday at noon for kids 18 and under. After lunch will be stories, crafts, games and more. “One thing that we want people to know is that summer reading isn’t just for kids,” said James. “We have an adult program with prizes, too. The whole family can sign up and participate.”
The summer of learning for adults includes a computer skills class, a free eBooks class, an introduction to ancestry and genealogy, how to use iPads and iPhones, Medicare basics, behavioral health and mental illness classes and writing workshops. There’s something truly for everyone, and it’s all free.
James said adult book lovers are always welcome to join a great hour of conversation from 4-5 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month. The club will discuss “The Abolitionist’s Daughter” by Diane C. McPhail on June 18 and (appropriately enough) “Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery” by Scott Kelly on July 18.
Registration is open for reading activities at the library. Through June 29, stop by the youth services or adult services desks at the county library or the Traphill branch library to register. After registering, kids and teens receive a bingo card that is crossed off when they read or listen to a book. For every five squares crossed off, they get a prize while supplies last. Everyone gets a prize when they complete their card.
My summer reading starts with a thick book I’ve put off reading for a while now: “Look Homeward, Angel,” by Thomas Wolfe. What’s yours?