This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in March 2014:
Don’t spoil the end of “A Dance with Dragons” for me.
Three years ago, I bought the latest George R.R. Martin novel. I’ve taken my sweet time reading it in brief bursts. I’m about three-quarters of the way through it.
I didn’t want to rush the read, and that proved prudent because Martin still hasn’t finished the next book in the series that inspired HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” “The Winds of Winter” might be out next year.
I’ll finish the book this month, though, and probably start another one. Maybe two. Or three! Some print; some Kindle; some audiobooks.
In case you’re not aware, March is National Reading Month.
I’ve been an avid reader all my life. Some of my all-time favorite books – books I’d absolutely want along on that old reliable desert island — include:
• “The Stand:” Stephen King’s epic tale of good vs. evil in post-apocalyptic America. I checked this out in hardcover from the junior high school library. Couldn’t put it down.
• “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer:” Mark Twain’s classic story about two boys named Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn who aim to misbehave. I named my dog after Huck and he lives up to the reputation.
• “Watership Down:” Richard Adams’ adventure about talking rabbits trying to rebuild after the destruction of their warren.
• “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:” Wonderfully weird space fantasy by Douglas Adams. It’s what I read to my infant son when we’re not reading “Jamberry” or “Good Night, Moon.”
• “American Gods.” Neil Gaiman’s brooding exploration of mythology in the melting pot of the United States.
Not an exhaustive list, by any means. I also have some favorite graphic novels and non-fiction books, but space is finite and brevity is a virtue.
Elizabeth Husketh, media specialist at Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet Elementary in Durham, teaches reading to students from kindergarten to fifth grade. She encourages students to read aloud books by a chosen author of the month – not just in March.
“We are aware of the research and the statistics that show early literacy as a predictor for future success in life,” she said. Her school engages students through family book clubs, digital storytelling, reading contests, guest speakers and more.
Some of her favorite books for kids include those by Yuyi Morales, such as “Nino Wrestles the World,” “The Best Part of Me” (a book of poems by Club Boulevard kids with photography by Wendy Ewald) and “The World According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Bimey.
The Durham County Library’s also getting in the spirit of National Reading Month with a Celebration of Storytelling on March 21 at the main library downtown.
From 2 to 4 p.m., Emmy Award-winning storyteller Willa Brigham hosts a workshop on storytelling for school-age children and families.
From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., families and children are welcome to attend Durham’s first Storytelling Festival, featuring Brigham (willabrigham.com), Ron Jones (rijones.com) and Alan Hoal (thehoalstory.com).
The library doesn’t limit its zeal for reading to one month out of 12, though.
During any given week, the library offers about 30 storytimes, from “lapsit” sessions for infants to highly interactive gatherings for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. They’ve also got grade-appropriate book clubs for older children and teens. Looking for a book club for adults? Consider the culinary book club, African writers book club or the mystery book club.
“We offer programs and resources that encourage and support literacy in many areas: science, technology, the arts and citizenship to name a few,” said Tammy Baggett, director of the Durham County Library. “But it all begins with reading as a gateway to learning and understanding, so we make it a priority to foster a love of reading in our youngest patrons.”
So what are you reading? And what should I read next? My brain feels hungry.
Wes Platt can be reached at email@example.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.