LOS ANGELES TIMES
READING: THE ABCs OF HELPING YOUNGSTERS ACHIEVE LITERACY -- THE FIRST SKILL
DISCOVERING BOOKS: WHEN THE READING LIGHT WENT ON
SUNDAY, MARCH 28, 1999
The light switch came on in three stages. The first stage was my early childhood. I had a good start thanks to my family.
My parents were happy and supportive. Both tried to develop me and teach me even though their education was limited. They were very young and from Hawaii. At the time my dad was going to L.A. City College. My mom never went to college.
I still have a memory of my mom reading an orange book to me while hugging me. I don't remember the title, but I remember her being concerned with helping me learn to read. Even now, it moves me when I think about it.
The second stage was my search for myself and life's answers. I was 19 and just finished my first year of college. I was depressed and unhappy and had no purpose in life. I was asking myself, "Who am I and what do I want to do in my life?" That summer, I took my first college literature class. That's when my reading really picked up.
I wanted to find answers, and I thought I'd find it in literature. I got interested in biographies of professional athletes and politicians like Robert F. Kennedy. I tried to learn from their lives, and I discovered that many of them were going through the same things I was going through. Even the famous had difficulties. It was in this second stage that the light grew brighter.
The third phase is going on today. Because of reading and my education, I have this capacity to learn. That is my most valuable quality because it gives me confidence to overcome life's problems and obstacles. The light is now fully on.
As long as your reading light is on, no matter how bad your circumstances, there will always be hope in your life. You will eventually find answers to your problems. It's really a source of great hope and confidence.
LOS ANGELES TIMES, BOOK REVIEW SECTION, "READING L.A." PAGE (MARCH 8, 1998):
"After reading this book, you will be sensitized to the America around you and inspired to become a more principled person. Schlesinger's theme is a powerful one: We achieve our lasting legacy through the values we exemplify."