A Doug's Life: From One Generation to the Next, Nothing Beats a Good Book

Ethan Rutherford is 8 years old. He could've been on the living room couch, remote in hand, playing video games like most other kids his age on a Saturday morning, right?

Or maybe I have this all wrong. Maybe I've misjudged the younger generation. Is it possible they actually read books once in a while? I mean, real books, where you turn the pages and put them on the shelf when you're done?

All I know is, Ethan walked out of the Sun City Library with a shopping bag full of books Saturday during the library's quarterly "Bag of Books for a Buck" sale. So did his brother, Cody, who's 11. And they weren't the only kids there.

In fact, there were a lot of people there -- people of all ages and reading interests. The community room was full of books, crammed onto long tables and spilling out of boxes on the floor -- and there were people everywhere. And somehow, I don't think they were all there just because of the bargain price.

True, the deal was you could fill a big shopping bag with books and pay just a dollar. Any used book you could find, just throw it in the bag and you walk out with a bunch of books -- and you're just one buck poorer.

I can see the appeal of that deal to someone who grew up reading books that don't require a battery and an Internet connection. There were a lot of us there. But to see the kids in there, jockeying for position around the book stacks, well ... it was enough to make me want to go home and dig out my Hardy Boys books.

But first, a peek into that bag Ethan was clutching as he headed toward the door with 11-year-old Cody, brother, and mom Lauren.

Let's see ... hmm, some heavy reading. Really, Ethan? Lord of the Rings? At age 8?

"They have Legos for Lord of the Rings, so I wanted the book," he said. "It might take me a month or so to read it."

At least. OK, next book. Kareem, the biography of former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who retired 15 years before Ethan was born. So Ethan, how do you even know who Kareem is?

"The skyhook," he replied, referring to Jabbar's signature hook shot. "My dad and brother taught me about it."

Now we're getting somewhere. So the parents are passing on to their children a love for history, which can best be found in old books? Sounds nice. But couldn't Ethan find the same thing in a web search?

"We have quiet time every day when they have to sit down and read," Lauren Rutherford said. "They have a choice between books, comic books or a newspaper. They do have a Kindle and they use that sometimes, but most of the time this is a 'no electronics' time."

Wow. And the kids actually seem to like it.

"My dad started telling me about Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan," Cody said about two other retired NBA greats. "After that, I read books about them. I even made a bobblehead of Magic Johnson."

Maybe that's the secret: Caring enough about current (and past) events and the education of our children to share knowledge that will send them to the book stacks, searching for more.

The Internet is great for looking up statistics, mapping a location and reading a short bio. To get the whole story, crack open a book.

"We have a Kindle, but I still read more of the printed books," said Len Keeler, another Menifee resident at the book sale. "My wife is into foreign languages and wanted a book on learning another language. She found one. She's still in there, filling bags."

Inspired, I headed back inside to grab a shopping bag. Now where are the Western novels?


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