State College

Quite frankly: Reading is the start of a lifelong friendship

There is no friend as loyal as a book.

Ernest Hemingway said that — and while the guy certainly had a vast personal stake in the ongoing future of this whole “reading” fad, it’s hard to disagree.

On March 29 and 30, Will Hillenbrand, the author of the children’s book “Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story,” will visit Schlow Centre Region Library.

Hillenbrand’s appearance is part of the statewide One Book, Every Young Child initiative, which is geared toward immersing kids in reading.

“Author visits are such a special treat. Parents and children alike love the opportunity to delve deeper into the story behind their beloved books. This is especially true of author-illustrators like Hillenbrand,” Anita Ditz, head of children’s services at Schlow, said.

Schlow has provided local preschools that are scheduled to attend the March 30 visit with art projects and songs thematically linked to Hillenbrand’s book.

After all, a spoonful of sugar is what makes the medicine go down, and reading is nothing if not fundamental.

I think I read that on a poster somewhere, probably at some point in between entering kindergarten and graduating the fifth grade.

It was a notion that was reinforced again and again as I got older, through book reports, pop quizzes and more than one half-hearted attempt at a diorama.

I’ve forgotten most of these things, but I’m assuming they happened based on the admittedly circumstantial evidence of a high school diploma and the distant echo of my mother’s voice in the back of my head any time I even think about procrastinating on something.

What I do remember with HD quality clarity is my dad. We would read together every night.

Sometimes it was a selection from the classics — “Green Eggs and Ham” or “The Cat in the Hat.” Other nights we’d choose something more eclectic like “Big Bird’s Big Book of Red Things” (and to this day I still feel like Elmo missed an opportunity).

Before reading ever became a chore or even a homework assignment, it was just time with Dad. I discovered that I enjoyed being told a story and when it came time to cut out the middle man — when it was just me and a bunch of words on the page — well, I liked that too.

Yes, reading is fundamental, but it can be — and should be — much more than that.

It’s about shared experiences, like the one that Schlow and One Book, Every Young Child will provide.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready