As parents we talk about the importance of reading to kids and set up all sorts of metrics of how much, when, and what books but another part of the equation is you reading as well. While it is hugely important that we read to kids, they will do what we do, so it is important that we read as well. With all the blogs and RSS feeds we collect in our Readers we are consuming a ton of words but nothing beats holding that book in your hands on a quiet night while the family gathers together their respective reading material and reads. I know this easy to say as some one who loves books and even likes to read. The love of books comes first and the reading of them second. I was wandering around a bookstore last night and just running my fingers over the jackets and pages of the books on the shelves like they were intricate fabrics that needed to be felt to experienced fully.
The library has a community reading project that starts with the question “What if everybody read the same book?” The idea is that we would talk about issues brought up by the book as well as celebrating the power of books to draw us together. The program is called everybody reads and the book that we are reading in Portland is called The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore. The Other Wes Moore is the story of two men from Baltimore with the same name and similar backgrounds that grew up to be very different men. The author is a Rhodes Scholar and Investment banker who became intrigued by a story on the news searching for a man named Wes Moore who was wanted for a jewelry store robbery gone wrong. The other Wes Moore grew up on the same streets with no father and ended up in prison serving a life sentence.
As a huge fan of the TV show The Wire I was drawn to this story of corner boys from West Baltimore that this book told. The scenes were recognizable and familiar but the magnitude seemed some how bigger. The book shows scenes from the two men’s life from eight different years. In the first few chapters they seem to mirror each other, both losing their fathers, both getting into trouble on the streets, and both struggling in school. There is a change where one life keeps getting worse and one changes dramatically but the reasons why are not as clear and easily defined. The main question the Author gets is what exactly was the difference in their lives that lead them down these two different paths and it is not a question easily answered.
I look forward to going to a book discussion here in Portland to talk about the issues brought up by this book and would recommend this book especially to fathers and fans of The Wire. The absent father plays a huge role in both boys lives and that touches on a subject I want to do more to address.