When my father died, he left me books. Not just physical compilations of paper and ink (my childhood copy of The Jungle Book; his college textbooks on Chaucer; a loveworn hardback of Dragonsdawn), but books as objects, as a collective idea. I credit my father, a lifelong bibliophile, with teaching me much of what I know about loving and appreciating the treasures that are books. And, lo and behold, here I am a bookseller.
I dearly hope that everyone reading this has at least one fond memory of reading with your parent or child. Maybe you sprawled together on a blanket in the park, taking turns reading a Dr. Seuss book and laughing at the zany creatures he invented. Or maybe you sat in companionable silence across the kitchen table from one another with your Tom Clancy and your Tolkien, respectively, and were content to share the solitude of deep literary immersion. Every night before bed, did you curl up together to read another chapter of a Brian Jacques novel? Did you both watch as tales of adventure unfolded on the vast canvas of your imagination, transmitted through the funny little marks and squiggles stamped precisely in their neat rows on the pages?
The gifts of reading together as father (or parent) and child don't stop with memories though. Instead, those memories serve to inspire even more treasured associations between everyday life and reading. The smell of an old tome can make you instantly remember the clothbound copy of The Mask of Zorro that you once read together, or a paper cut could bring you back to that day of sorting through piles and piles of books at a flea market. Your best reading memories build on one another to create an entire mindset that ties your every day to the moments you've had with books and loved ones. It becomes an amorphous cocoon of contentment, something subtle but present and utterly irrevocable.
Every time you crack open a book, you're doing it with the parent who first taught you to love literature. And every time you run your finger along the spines of volumes lined up meticulously on a bookshelf, they're browsing there with you, looking for your next favorite book. Every page you read, you share together, no matter how far apart you are. It's the most enduring gift imaginable.
Celebrate each other with a shared love of reading every day. Try something that will make you giggle. Something that will make you think. Anything will do, so long as you read it together. Try a comic book, like Calvin and Hobbes, if you don't know where else to start. Recommend something to each other over the phone, if you can't be together. Re-read an old favorite, in memoriam. Whatever you choose to begin with, know that it's the start of something beautiful, something that can be passed down through the generations like an heirloom, outliving you both and growing deeper with every turned page. It's a true legacy. It's parenthood, it's books, and it's waiting to be shared.