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A simple way to build new dreams

Teacher Joshua Gielgens reads to Arlo Morgenroth, right, and other children at the Wallingford Child Care Center in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies … The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

In 1999 there was a film called “Life” starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. You may remember Eddie’s character, “Ray,” sharing with his friends wild extravagant  stories of his “Boom Boom Room” where all sorts of important people came by, and things happened there that would stretch one’s imagination to be able to comprehend.

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But, that’s because the Boom Boom Room was a product of Ray’s imagination, and when he told those stories about it to his friends, they pictured a place they wanted to be. As the stories continued to tease the interest of Ray’s friends, the stories became real in their minds.

This really isn’t much different from what I used to do when I was younger. I would hear of places — some real, some imaginary — and I really didn’t know much more about them than what the author of the book told me, so I colored in any of the grey area with my wild imagination.

From books, I was able to travel to places I figured I might never see, to the point where would tell  myself “One day, I am going to travel to Los Angeles because it seems like an amazing place” or “One day I want to be a basketball coach like John Wooden because I read about him.”

Sometimes reality can trap us in cages we build around ourselves, but if we are encouraged to dream, the potential we can unlock for our future is limitless.

While smart phones and video games have taken the top slots for many kids of this generation I have to wonder how many brilliant minds are out there waiting to be set free or encouraged by a story they can relate to. Or even a story that might inspire them to dream a little bit.

How else would we ever have known about a world like Narnia, Middle Earth, or Pandora if someone hadn’t dreamed a little and created these worlds for us?

My point here is that our minds can take us to places that the ordinary world can’t. We might not be able to afford to take a cruise, but through reading, we can create lasting memories by living in the moments written for us in these stories.

So, is it that simple? Can we solve the world’s problems by inspiring people to read a little bit?

I’d like to think so. If anything, its a wonderful place to start.

Those of you who may follow me on social media may have seen me share a video of a Pennsylvania barber, who encourages kids to build their confidence by having them read out aloud while they get their haircuts.   This caught my attention because I also found out that nearly 75 percent of adults fear public speaking.

If all this is true, then books seem to be pretty powerful weapons in themselves.  They let us travel to exotic places, learn new and exciting words, and tell us stories that inspire us to act this way or that way if we are ever faced with a formidable challenge.  They make us laugh, they make us cry, they may even make us angry at times.

But most importantly, books and stories challenge us to think, dream, and use our minds.

Is there a particular book, or character that you got “lost” in over the years? Share with us, if you wish. I would love to hear it.

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” – Gerry Spence

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