Friday, January 17, 2014

Young Words

Not the stories that my dad read to me at night...

Every night my dad would tuck me into bed and read me whatever books I had pulled from the shelf. Silly stories, poetry, picture books, chapter books--all read to me in a voice so soothing that I sometimes had to fight it to get to the end of the story. If my interest in words started anywhere, it started there, in the half hour before bed, with the night light on its brightest setting and my dad sitting next to me entertaining while coaxing me to sleep with stories of clever police dogs, dancing mice, and big, bad pigs.

Periodically, we would stumble upon a new word and he would stop and ask, "Do you know what that means?" I would shake my head if I didn't know and he would give me a definition I could understand. To be honest, I can't really remember what words they were--there were a lot of them and I imagine they seemed much more sophisticated when I was five. Actually, I think "catastrophe" was one of them, but I can't be sure...Anyway, those words were like toys I could show off to my friends--signs of intellectual status and pompous know-it-all-ness.

But back then, it was magic. Squiggles on a page could hold words. Words could form stories. Stories could be brought to life by simply speaking them aloud. I don't think I thought of it exactly that way when I was younger, but I felt it. Each word I discovered and learned to decipher was like a new spell to cast or tool to use. Words were powerful, beautiful and mine if I decided to claim them....

...And I decided to claim them.

Be bold.


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