You may have tangible wealth untold.
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I had a mother who read to me.
— Strickland Gillilan
Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!
— A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943
The mere ability to read . . .
Have you ever rightly considered what the mere ability to read means?
That it is the key, which admits us to the whole world of thought and fancy and imagination?
To the company of saint and sage, to the wisest and the wittiest at their wisest and wittiest moments?
That it enables us to see with the keenest eyes, hear with the finest ears, and listen to the sweetest voices of all time?
More than that, it annihilates time and space for us.
James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)