Friday, December 28, 2012
The Book Clubhouse
When I was a little boy, maybe age 6 or 7, I used to play in my room for hours at a time. In the early 1970s I didn’t have all of the distractions of today’s child. No competing gadgets, 200-channel cable TV, or the Internet. We used phones for talking and letters came via the mailman. It was a different time – no better, no worse than any other.
I remember making up my own games. I’d play with toys, toss a ball against my room walls, and push Matchbox cars off my window sills. I also used to take stacks of books off my dad’s bookcase and build a clubhouse out of them.
Piles of hardcover grownup books were best used not for reading, but for building materials. Walls of books surrounded me until I was locked in by them. I took my blanket and put it a cross the books to act as a roof. My imagination kept me going. It was an early interaction with books that taught me lessons not included in the words of these volumes.
No one sat in my clubhouse but me. It was my little piece of real estate with in my room that left me to feel safe and secure.
They took me to a whole other world, simply by walling out the world. I used the books to shield me from the outside.
Words have a strength that far exceed the physical capacities of the books’ shell. But the books stood up and created a palace for me, showing me a different type of strength. These books became concrete, steel, and wood for me. They became my home.
I suppose kids won’t be building clubhouses out of digital bits and bytes. Maybe they will pile up smart phones, tablets, and laptops to build their huts. If they turn everything on, the hut can be lit up like a Christmas tree.
Books have always meant so much to me. They still do. I cannot imagine not having books in my life, but back in my childhood books were literally the building blocks for my imagination. They helped construct a new landscape that allowed me to see life differently.
If I piled the books up today I would change one thing: I would never come out of the clubhouse. And I would just sit inside it and read the books that shelter me.