Friday, January 15, 2021

Black hits the parental bull’s-eye

| June 17, 2020 1:00 AM

Who knew a preface could say so much.

Uyless Black, a frequent and esteemed contributor to The Press, wrote his first 35 books about data communications networks and the internet. But his latest, No. 42 for those who are counting, is something else.

Fresh off the press, “Read to Me with Ears to Hear and Eyes to See” is a collection of 32 short stories about the social fabric of America. Black, who won the Navy Commendation Medal for actions in the Vietnam War, writes with sensitivity, adept scene-setting and character development that sometimes lead where you wouldn’t have expected to go.

That includes the preface. Today’s editorial quotes Black from his focus on one valuable reminder. On Friday, we’ll share his observation (and warning) about one of the greatest threats to that which binds us as a great nation.

“My son, Tommy, and I started reading to each other early in his life. While I read, he would follow my words as I pointed to the text with my finger. This guidance helped his learning new words, even though, many years ago, my first grade teacher had forbidden her students to finger read. Nonetheless, my son would do the same for me as he read. Thus, we read with both ears and eyes.

“Each night I would put him to bed earlier than my time for sleep. His only protest, and not much of a protest, was, ‘Read a story.’ That we did … together, often pausing to discuss a passage in the narrative.

“For a while in the evening, we would lie together on the bed, propped up on pillows, as we educated each other, slowly and casually reading short stories and novels of adventure and heroes’ exploits.

“It is satisfying to learn how we can gain pleasure from reading as well as watching others recite their cadence of passages. But this experience comes about if we do not read and listen too impatiently; that we study, if only a little bit, even casually, the structure of the author’s compositions…

“Watching Tommy’s reading those passages helped me gain an increasing appreciation of the written word, and I hope I did the same for him.”

Reading to and with our children regularly. Perhaps there is no greater parental gift — a gift that gives back instantly and forever.

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