The book challenge

Bookworm logo
The logo for the Bookworm campaign

The written language has to be mankind’s biggest invention. This has enabled very old ideas to entertain and influence us today. I have a number of teachers, some used the oral tradition long enough that a few copies could be made, and that stored these words until a German man named Johan Gutenberg invented the method of printing. That made these words more accessible, and I believe this technology was also vital to Martin Luther’s success about 70 years later.

I love reading; always have. Still, it saddens me that I find it so hard. I have always had difficulties with academic work, even though that is where I’ve had the most success. It takes a lot of effort. Those of you that have read this blog for a while know that I have nonverbal learning disability (NLD) and that I think this unofficial diagnose is so close to asberger, that it doesn’t make any sense to me to separate the two. I don’t know if that explains it, but I struggle with reading. I am a slow reader; extremely slow. My speed would have been slow anyway, but I also slow down because I need time to understand what I’m reading. I managed in college because I also had an extreme dedication. I developed a “tunnel vision” and there was only one thing that mattered, studying. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do other things, but this was the only way I could learn the curriculum. I have to admit I liked it too. I guess this is my personality, and when I think back on my 5,5 years in college, that’s when I probably functioned the best.

I’m not sure what the problem is these days, but my cognitive skills seem to fluctuate. Not from extreme high to extreme low because they were never very high, but it’s hard to keep that medium level and high endurance that I was able to do in my 20’s. Now it’s often low and it’s been difficult to complete a book for years. I have read a few pages from about a dozen books the last 5 years, but didn’t finish them. It’s the same story with writing my books. I actually have several ideas, but they are not going anywhere. I don’t seem to do anything, except for this blog. I love writing and I believe my blog has been quite successful as a product.

But I hope things will change this year. My daughter brought home a seed that might do the trick. The local public library are hosting an annual campaign/contest, called The Bookworm is coming again, for children in 3rd to 7th grade. They’ll get a prize if they read 30 books between January 15 and May 15. I have decided to challenge myself and read as many books as possible before May 15th. Being a slow reader it’ll be hard to reach 30, but I’ll try. Hence the book challenge-message to the right. I think I need some structure, a certain pressure.

My wife went to Little Rock Central High School, or just Central High. I find it fascinating that she bought A Wrinkle in Time from the school library, and since then it’s crossed the Atlantic and even spent two years north of the Polar Circle. Now it’ll inspire a new generation in our family. Language is truly powerful!

I think I’ll make an update at the end of every month, but this time I’d like to mention A Wrinkle in time. I have written about dystopian literature recently, and this book is a good introduction to this theme for children.

To put it short Meg and Charles Wallace are children of two scientists. Their father is missing after a secret project where he had traveled to another planet. Meg and Charles are usually referred to as morons because they are different, something I can relate to, but they are smarter than most people give them credit for. With the help of three celestial beings they set out to save their father.

They find him in the CENTRAL Central Intelligence Building on the planet Camazotz. A disembodied brain (IT) controls everyone on the planet, turns them into some sort of zombies. On their way to Camazotz they pass through The Black Thing, a dark, cold and evil shadow and the IT is just one of many agents of The Black Thing.

They discovered it was impossible to fight this evil without weapons, and when they rescued their father, they had to leave Charles Wallace behind. At the end of the book Meg had to go back alone. It had to be her, the moron in most people’s eyes, that had to rescue her brother. She was terrified of facing The Black Thing again, but the three celestial beings gave her a riddle. She had something IT didn’t have, and that would make her stronger. This is what one of the celestial beings, Mrs. Whatsit, told her:

“We will not let you go empty handed this time. But what we can give you now is nothing you can touch with your hands. I give you my love, Meg. Never forget that. My love always.”

This was the answer, but Meg didn’t understand it. When she faced IT again, and this evil force talked to her through her brother, she almost believed IT’s lies. She broke free from IT for a short moment and she thought the solution was her hatred of this evil, but then it dawned on her. It wasn’t hatred that IT didn’t have.

Mrs. Whatsit loves me; that’s what she told me, that she loves me,” suddenly she knew.
She knew!
That was what she had that IT did not have.
She had Mrs.Whatsit’s love, and her father’s, and her mother’s and the real Charles Wallace’s love ….
And she had love for them.

The question was whether she could use love on pure evil. If you can hunt down a copy of this book from 1962, I highly recommend it. This book reminds me a bit about The Chronicles of Narnia. The three helpers sound like angels that presented a gospel (good news) of love. This is a good introduction to science fiction and dystopia for children. I’ve never liked books that don’t offer hope, such as 1984. I like these books because they help me understand the world better, but they are also an escapism. I don’t need to escape just to see no hope. There seems to be enough of that on the news channels.

This is the hope Christians find in the Bible, and that was definitely a dystopic world. This is from the chapter where Moses transfers his leadership to Joshua:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (verse 6)

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (verse 8).

Deuteronomy 31, New International Version

Incidentally, on biblegateway you can read many different translations of the Bible.

You might also be interested in My daughter’s booklist where I recommend some books. By the way, A Wrinkle in Time, was banned in the US at some point. It appeared in the Banned Books Week in 2012. It was probably banned because of a strong female protagonist and for its obvious reference to Christianity (+ some magic like time travel and crystal ball). Strangely enough, the objections have come from Christians. Some of them didn’t like the science and Christianity mixture. In my opinion those attitudes needed to be challenged, so they are excellent reasons for you to introduce these books to children!

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