Let's Talk with Debra H. Goldstein

Happy Birthday, Daddy! Thanks for Teaching Me to Love Words

February 16, 2023

Today would be my father’s ninety-seventh birthday, but he died at seventy-seven. I don’t write about him as often as I do my mother. Part of the reason is because her background as a Holocaust survivor, assimilation into American culture and English (without a trace of an accent), fierce protection of family and possessions, and social justice beliefs were more out there. Dad was quiet.

His life was a balance of loving/adoring my mother, being a family man, and going to work. They were a team, but as much as he accomplished in business, in the community, or in terms of raising my sister and me, he was the quiet one. He imparted his eye for fashion and art to my sister, his gentle intervention to my children, but when I think about it, I realize I owe a great deal of my love of words to him. Although my mother religiously took me to the library every week and bought so many Scholastic and Weekly Reader books that the classroom teacher adored her, my father spent hours reading poetry aloud with me.

As a child, I had a speech problem. I spoke too fast. My brain worked faster than the words could come out of my mouth. The speech pathologists decided that as a means of slowing my speech down, it would be a good thing for me to read poetry aloud regularly. My father, using the American and British books of poetry (now similar to the Norton poetry anthologies) sat with me every night having me read the words of Longfellow, Frost, and others. When I stumbled over a word, he helped me. If I didn’t understand a word or concept, he patiently explained it. That’s how I learned “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman referred to Abraham Lincoln rather than simply a ship’s captain and about the choices one can make by “The Road Not Taken.”

Five Belles Too ManyI don’t particularly like poetry. Never have. But, thanks to my father, I love the images and the sound of words as they roll around my brain and off of my tongue. Happy Birthday, Daddy!

For a chance to win a copy of Five Belles Too Many, tell me, did anyone in your life make a difference when it came to reading or loving words?

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Posted in Let's Talk, with Debra H. Goldstein • Tags: , , , |  33 Comments


33 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Daddy! Thanks for Teaching Me to Love Words

  1. My father also was the one to read with me. Nightly before bed we would read together from a large book of daily items for children. When the time came to begin studying the Catechism in preparation for my First Sacraments, my Non-Catholic father taught it to me. We even took a “story night” off if I was doing well with the current lessons. (Mom “never” knew). In fairness, both my parents were readers and I am grateful for that every day.

  2. My Mom was the reader she gave me a love of books from an early age. I remember going to the Sears and getting a Nancy Drew book for my Birthday boy was I excited. Thank you for posting.

  3. Debra, what a wonderful lifelong gift your father gave to you. My parents didn’t read to us four children — but they provided an example by reading in front of us.

  4. My mom inspired my love of words & reading. She read to me daily, starting as a baby and helped me to learn the alphabet & read by myself very early on. My grandmother, though, also encouraged my constant reading & attempts at writing. She was the one to give me my first Trixie Belden mystery book.

  5. This is sweet. I got my love of reading from my father. He and I liked the same type of books and discussed them together. His favorite place in the house was an armchair where he sat and read. I learned only later that he was a wonderful writer as well.

  6. This really is lovely. I never knew your mother was a Holocaust survivor or that she was foreign born. She really had no accent!

    1. She made a point to lose that accent and to learn English well when she came to America at the age of ten. She was a great influence on the person I am today. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. What nice memories of your father! My dad was more of an inventor type who tinkered…he rarely cracked a book. But for some reason when we were little he would occasionally read to me and my siblings from a book called “Early Man”. Not exactly kiddie literature, but we enjoyed it. After both my parents passed, I saw that volume still on one of my mom’s bookshelves and snagged it before anyone could donate it. And someday I’ll break it out and read it to see exactly what we were hearing all those many years ago!

    1. I still have the poetry books. Only when I got older did I realize they were textbooks that my aunt had in college. – greatest American and greatest …. Poets. Big books much like Norton puts out today. Even looking at your dad’s book brings back memories for you,
      I’m sure.

  8. My father was special to me. My mother was also, but I was a Daddy’s girl. He worked 7 days a week from early to late as he was the District Manager of 4 theatres (3 in town and one in a town 15 minutes away). But in what little time he had, my sister and I were included, especially me. He took me to the library weekly to check out books and he read to me. He took me the grocery store (besides all of the work, he did the grocery shopping), took me the theatres with him, and many other places. In first grade, I won the award for the most books-202- and they weren’t baby books either. All of my birthday parties were at one of his theatres, with a special movie ordered for like a kids morning film and he ordered movies that were going to be released like “Pinocchio” and “G.I. Blues.” We collected stamps together and many other hobbies. Unfortunately, I lost him at 68 years old after we went to a Stamp Happening with heart problems. Your post made me miss him more. He was a great daddy. Thank you.

      1. Me, too, Debbie. From
        Things you’ve said, I think our dads would have found some things to enjoy in common.

  9. What a beautiful memory, thanks so much for sharing with us. My mom was the one who taught me to read when I was very young. My love of reading started with her and has continued all my life. Our favorite poem was “The Road Not Taken” and we both recited it from heart when we visited Frost’s grave. As she reached the end of her long decline of dementia, I was reading Jenny Colgan’s “The Bookshop on the Corner” to her, and I could tell she was enjoying the funny escapades right along with me.

  10. Your father sounds wonderful. I’m so glad you have those happy memories. We were voracious readers in my family. My Mom used to limit me to 4 library books per week because I would bring home 10 and do nothing but read….I ignored meals, chores, everything! However, I won that one….I started finding the 4 longest books in the library! Made for some odd reading choices for a 12 year old, but it worked!

    1. I love it. My mom didn’t limit me and was good about going back during the summer reading contest. I remember one year we had to read so many books to get across the country. For me, they decided to make it multiple trips as I read so many. I can’t say I went for the longest, but I like the way your brain works.

  11. Thank you for sharing your lovely story. My mom introduced me to my love of reading my reading to us every night. I wanted to learn to read as soon as possible so I could escape into the wondrous worlds described in storybooks.

  12. Thanks everyone for stopping by …. I’ll be back in April with another post and giveaway, but for now, the winner of Five Belles Too Many is Madeleine Gilbert Spangler.

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