Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Three of the greatest dads I know are my husband, my father, and my brother George. All three do a lot of reading, making shopping for birthdays, Christmas, and Father's Day pretty fun for me. There's not much I enjoy more than browsing for books. However, my husband and brother only read nonfiction. Left on my own, I would rarely stray from the fiction and cooking sections of the bookstore. Selecting gifts for them has been eye-opening. In recent years I've found books for them about oysters, lobsters, sailboats, mountain climbing, soldiers, religion, ice hockey, submarines, music, dogs and more. Happily I've gone on to borrow and read some of their gifts. Later today, my husband will be unwrapping a book about the restoration of a wooden sailboat and one about the connection between the human brain and music. There's a lot of good nonfiction out there! Unfortunately, not enough young people are reading it. I've read some articles and studies lately about how many high school and college students report having never read a nonfiction book other than assignred chapters in textbooks. This affects not just their body of knowledge, but their ability to process written information. So much of what we read as adults, from how to manuals to the newspapers, is nonfiction. In order to make sense of it, we need experiences with nonfiction writing. Clearly this is not an issue for my husband or brother, but it shouldn't be for anyone with the wide range of nonfiction books out there today.

The one I plan to read next is It's Only A Mountain:Dick and Rick Hoyt, Men of Iron. I love the story of this father and his physically handicapped son who have competed in numerous marathons and the Iron Man triathlon. I use a magazine article about them when teaching my fourth grade religious education class and have cried while watching them compete on television and YouTube. This book about them has come highly recommended and I'm looking forward to it. If you are looking for a very last minute idea, it seems like an excellent Father's Day gift.

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