TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — EDITOR’S NOTE: Richard Anderson, Nevada County Supervisor is featured in this week’s Readers Are Leaders, a series of interviews about the impact of reading in the lives and careers of local leaders. To read past interviews with leaders who are readers, visit www.tahoedailytribune.com, search “Readers.”
Q: Is reading important in your life/career? How so?
A: I have two jobs. I publish a fishing magazine, and I serve as an elected representative for Nevada County. Reading is critical to both. For the magazine, I need to judge the quality and accuracy of the stories that are sent to me for publication. For the County, I need to understand the reports that are written about the issues that face us. If I could not read well, then I would not be able to do these jobs. Even worse, if I could not read well, I never would have gotten these jobs, and they are jobs that I love doing.
Q: What is your favorite children’s book — past or present?
A: My favorite children’s book is “The Wreck of the Zephyr,” written by Chris Van Allsburg, who also did the book’s artwork. It is about a boy who wants to become a sailor, and not only is it an engaging story, the pictures that accompany the words are beautiful.
Q: If you were snowed in at a backcountry hut, what reading material would you want to have with you?
A: If I was snowed in at a backcountry hut, I would want to have with me all 20 of the naval novels written by Patrick O’Brian. They take place during the Napoleonic War, which occurred around 200 years ago when the British were fighting the French, who wanted to conquer Europe and came very close to doing so. The plots revolve around Jack Aubrey, a British Royal Navy officer, and his friend, Stephen Maturin, who is his ship’s surgeon and also a secret agent. There are plenty of exciting battles at sea, but the books are especially engrossing, holding a reader’s interest, because they are good at depicting a friendship between two very different men, as well as the way of people lived during an era of history that is now long gone. I’ve read the series twice, and I plan to read it again within the next year or two.
Q: Why do you think readers are leaders?
A: Readers are leaders because they learn to understand the world in a deeper manner, which allows them to play a more effective role in making life better for all of us.
Q: Where is your favorite place to read/when is your favorite time to read?
A: I’ll read anywhere, anytime, but during summer, I prefer to sit outside in a shady spot in my garden, because I like to hear the breeze in the trees and the birds. During winter, sitting in front of a crackling fire is best.
Richard’s interview illustrates how children are drawn in and engaged in literature through picture books with exciting stories and captivating illustrations. When a love of literature is developed in childhood, reading becomes a lifelong and enjoyable practice, encompassing reading for pleasure, reading for academic success and, as Richard describes, reading to benefit a rich and satisfying professional life.
Chris Van Allsburg is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. “The Wreck of the Zephyr” describes the fantastical adventure of a young boy who, against all advice, goes out into rough seas in his sailboat. The beautiful pictures that Richard describes are especially compelling to children, in that Van Allsburg created them from a child’s eye-view. Other well-known Val Allsburg books include “The Polar Express” and “Jumanji.”
These and thousands of free picture books children love reside at public libraries. A weekly visit can provide a book-bag full of enjoyment for a family.
For those very special books and home library classics to be passed down through generations, visit your local bookstore.
Reading to children from birth is the most effective way to instill the precious gift of lifelong reading.
Ruth Jackson Hall is the early learning coordinator for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.