Books open door to adventure for columnist

Susan Manzke

A friend of mine recently told me she had a relaxing weekend. During her quiet time she read three books. Wow! I gasped. I could never do that. It’s not that I don’t like to read. I do. It’s just that I’ve never been able to read that fast. Still, I love to read.

A form of Dyslexia makes reading difficult for me. When I was a child, no one understood why I had trouble reading. Some of my teachers thought I wasn’t trying hard enough—I was a whiz at math, except for word problems. I hated those.

So I struggled through grade after grade. And then something happened in seventh grade. Our teacher had assigned a book report. We were to read a book and write about it by Monday. It wasn’t until I was home, far from a library that I remembered. In near panic, I searched our house for a book.

On the top shelf of our bookcase, I found a collection of my mother’s. Most of her books were classics, and looked hard to read. Finally, I came across one that interested me. It was about a dog, and I loved dogs. The book I selected was Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight.

Susan, Rachel, Eli, and Arianna collaborators on the picture book, Up and Down Twins.

I took it to a favorite place of mine—up a tree—and for the first time ever, I found myself engrossed in a book. It was sad, adventurous, and had a great ending. And,for the first time ever, I completed a reading assignment and received a good grade.

Lassie Come-Home was the first book of many I read that year. I started in on the books on the shelf, finding more adventures in Treasure Island and then Kidnapped.

A couple years later, our high school library drew me to the stacks where I found a whole shelf of books about horses by Walter Farley. A quiet corner in that library soon became my favorite place in school.

I’ve been lost in many different books since my teen years. Our home is loaded with books and I continue to be drawn to libraries—I volunteer at the Muehl Public Library most Thursday mornings.

Last Saturday we had an event at the Muehl Public Library. It was the day we unveiled two library READ posters, mine and Tom Duffy’s.

When I won the privilege of being a READ poster model, I knew the book that I wanted to feature, Lassie Come-Home. I also knew I wanted to include our dog, Sunny, on my poster. Sunny is far from being a collie like Lassie, but he’s a great dog and part of our family. When Steve Kemp from Countryside Photography came to take my photo, he had no problem adding Sunny. The chosen photo was taken on our farm in the front yard under our basswood tree.

Susan and Sunny unveils their READ poster at Muehl Public Library.

Reading is important, no matter who you are, no matter how slow or how fast you read. It can be entertaining, and educational; make you laugh or cry. It can take you to the moon in a rocket or on the back of a jumping cow. The choice is yours when you select a book.

Having family join me for the unveiling made my day even more special. Lucky for me some of my grandchildren were able to come. The best thing is that Eli, Arianna, and Serenity are all crazy about books and reading.

If you missed the unveiling, you can see all the local READ posters hanging in our library. You might even find me there in person. I hope so.

*Mark your calendar: I will be speaking on Oct. 13, 2017 at 2 p.m. at the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, WI. The title of my talk will be Dust off those Skeletons – Saving Family Stories.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;