“I wish I had a river I could skate away on; I wish I had a river so long it would teach my feet to fly. . .I wish I had a river I could skate away on. . .” from “River” by Joni Mitchell

No secret revealed, libraries and bookstores rank high on my list of favorite places and I have skated away on a river of books since I was old enough to read. Novels, nonfiction, classic literature, children’s books, well, I love it all. My children and grandchildren are well aware of this facet of my personhood. One of their Christmas gifts every year is a book I think they need to read. To my delight On Christmas day, I had quite an in-depth conversation with my twelve year-old-grandson about the book True Grit (my gift to him) and about Charles Dickens, an author he said he had never heard of. (I had to do some deep-breathing during that statement because Dickens is one of my favorite authors).

This past year, I did something I never pictured myself doing–I decided to listen to audiobooks. I began by borrowing classic novels from the library and listening to many titles long checked off my list. One of the first was A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I have read this novel at least five times as well as seen the films but when I heard a distinguished English voice read Dickens, I was mesmerized. The words came alive, the scenes even more vivid, the story clearer than ever before. I also listened to Middlemarch by George Eliot (almost 900 pages), and Promised Land by Barrack Obama, which he read himself! Now I am listening to the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and enjoying the voices of the familiar characters in a way I never thought possible. Because I tried something new, I have been immensely enriched and abundantly gifted.

I fear that kids today do not read for escape and pleasure like I did and that does not settle well in my soul. Having seen and listened to many anxious and depressed young ones, I know they need a river to skate away on sometimes. Unfortunately, that river is most often social media, texting, or internet cyberspace environments that do not transport them to a land of enchantment and beauty. My youngest daughter is a high school English teacher and we have many conversations about how to raise and nurture a next generation of readers. While challenging, perhaps we elders need to make the effort to share our wisdom without judgment and teach our young ones how to skate so they will feel the glorious freedom flowing from the river of books right at their fingertips.


  1. Love it DC!!! Been enjoying your blog and writings-brings me peace and connectedness to you because I know you so well…. I think I might try the same (audio books) this coming year. Thanks for the nudge…. 🙂


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