Not reading? Why on earth not?

Rusty, my dear 90-year-old mother-in-law, is an avid reader — no matter that she can’t see and is increasingly hard of hearing. She just turns up the sound on the free audio books she receives weekly from the Talking Book Service of the Idaho Commission on Libraries. They even provide an elder-friendly playback device – super-important given her vision issues.

Like all books, the ones that Rusty reads give her so much more than entertainment. They connect her — with ideas, with the outside world, with books by beloved authors, and with stories that remind her of her well-lived decades on earth. In short, they take her away from what most would see as a very limited existence.

“Stories, honestly told, redeem the world. If you love books, you are never alone,” according to Anthony Doerr of Boise. I couldn’t agree more.

The Pulitzer-prize winning author of All The Light We Cannot See, Doerr also served a stint as Idaho’s Writer-in-Residence. In one of my favorite essays, published in a 2010 newsletter from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, he talks about “reading being good for you,” and that adults who promote incentive-based, books-are-vegetables approaches to reading can kill the very habit that we mean to encourage.

His own young sons love books, however, and always “ask for another and another:”

“What they remind me, every evening, is that books are not always alfalfa sprouts and wheatgrass and parboiled eggplant; books are not always giant horse pills stuffed with multivitamin dust. Some books are roasted lobsters soaked with butter; some are molten tubs of dark chocolate; some are luminescent piles of narcotics. Just ask any nine-year-old who has stayed up half the night reading Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia. Just ask any teenager with her nose deep in Stephanie Meyer, or ask anyone, anywhere, on a long flight with a paperback novel.”

That was my experience as a bookseller, also — that if a person didn’t like to read, they just hadn’t yet found the right book to stimulate that love of reading. But don’t take my word for it. Great resources about and are summarized below.

Any other questions about the value of the reading? You can just ask Rusty.

Plenty of action on the local literary scene

The “Little Free Libraries” project:

• Teton Valleyites can now bid to purchase locally-created little libraries, part of a national effort to bring books directly to neighborhoods of readers.

• We currently have a single little free library (at 320 East Howard Avenue in Driggs) and the current effort will make five more available here. Their locations will depend on who purchases them this month.

• To be initially stocked by the Valley of the Tetons Library, the Little Free Libraries operate as an exchange of books — patrons replace something they’ve chosen with a new title.

Summer reading programs:

• Kids can choose a free book at the Alta Branch of the Teton County Library and readers of all agers can participate in a reading competition through July 21. Special family-friendly events are being held every Saturday at 11 am at Alta, in addition to StoryTime and BabyTime sessions.

• The Valley of the Tetons Library runs a full schedule of Summer Reading sessions, STEAM camps, and Game Nights; both branches have extended hours one night a week. Books are also available online at VOTL, as are the full archives of the Teton Valley News and the Valley Citizen.

• Teton School District #401 has plenty to offer, too, with 24/7 access to a selection of diverse E books, and on Wednesdays, volunteers and kids meet for a weekly reading and gardening program at Tetonia Elementary.

If you want to own paper-bound books or need to purchase a book (“the perfect gift for someone who has everything; the perfect gift for someone who has nothing”), please shop locally. Bookselling is truly a labor of love (or no one would do it):

• Corner Drug in Driggs has a well-stocked children’s book selection, many local titles, and will special order for customers.

• You can also find specialty titles at many other businesses, including Victor Emporium and MD Nursery.

For those on a budget:

• See ‘N Save has a huge collection of affordable titles.

• The libraries have purchase-by-donation shelves and VOTL hosts a book sale in Victor during the Fourth of July festivities.

Links to resources:

To learn more about free audio books:

To see the Little Free Libraries and bid on them (act fast — auction closes on June 30):

For info on Alta’s summer reading program:

For info about Valley of the Tetons library events:

To access E books via Destiny Quest from Teton School District #401:

To signup to volunteer for the gardening-reading program at Tetonia Elementary on Wednesdays:!/showSignUp/5080f4ca8ac2fa4f94-summer1

To read ICA article (“A Defense of Reading in Four Parts”) by Anthony Doerr, send Jeanne a private message on Facebook; for a similar article, see:

To participate in a national reading project:

For more information about the value of reading:

This post was originally published here

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