READ (Life Lesson Series)

Why You Should Read:

Lynn Butler understands that, “reading is a window to the world.” Educators are instructed that reading opens a window to the world for their students. Reading is a foundational skill for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment. As a lifelong learning skill, reading goes beyond decoding and comprehension to interpretation and development of new understandings. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. By reading, people can travel to places outside of their day-to-day environment. They can share in the lives of others, still living or long dead, who they may never meet.

People can learn how to do new things even when they don’t have a teacher nearby to teach them. Of course nobody can forget the famous line from Good Will Hunting when Matt Damon’s character, Will retorts, “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.” In this memorable scene, Damon’s character is making the point that by reading you become highly self-educated. Before Ray Bradbury passed on, he shared that he never went to college, instead, he went to the library all day, three times a week, until he got married at 27. Until he died, he regularly organized fundraisers for libraries.

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” – Charles “Tremendous” Jones

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones passionately promoted the reading of books. Jones was an entertaining humorist, and he passed along his messages with a brand of humor that endears him to audiences and makes his messages memorable. His ability to quote and reference varied literature was an impressive testament to his own commitment to reading. Jones did a lot more than simply read. He advocated sharing books and the messages they offer, and he certainly practiced what he preached. Leader Network interviewed Jones in 2006. Jones shared,

“The heart of my life is books. My favorite saying is: You are the same today you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read. In every turning point and crisis of my life, there’s always been a book that helped me think and see more clearly and keep laughing and keep looking up and keep my mouth shut. I would never tell anybody I ever had a problem, so everybody always thought I was on top of the world, and yet I was just like everybody else with problems coming out of my ears. Now, when people come to my office, they come to talk to me. Instead of conversing with me like they think they are going to do, I get them reading. I pick out some great books and have each person read three or four sentences. I just received another email from a person recounting how his life was changed by learning the power of reading together – rather than talking. I just can’t get over the power of a little book – sometimes only 30 or 40 pages – that literally turns and shapes an entire lifetime. Yet most people say, “I don’t read.” My heart aches for those people since I remember when I didn’t read because I was so ignorant. In my case, I was always blessed because I was ashamed of my ignorance; most people are proud to be ignorant.”

After an interview Scott Giambalvo had with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, Giambalvo reveals,

“A walk through his offices (and private library) told me what kind of man Charlie Jones is. A man that reads. Almost every room had cases and cases of books lining the walls. His private collection includes the only known complete set of Oswald Chambers’s hardcover’s, over 270 volumes on Lincoln alone, 85 on Washington, and countless others on Lee, Jackson, Livingston, Huston, Patton, Churchill and many more. His collection is truly tremendous.”

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones told Giambalvo,

“Reading builds your mind and expands your thinking. In a world where the average American reads one to two books a year, if you read just one book a month you’ll be ahead of the pack tenfold. Remember though, that you have to think about what you read. Apply it to your life and realize how it could impact your own experiences. Learn from it. Finally, share it. Knowledge is nothing if it is not given away freely. If you give because you have, you’ll develop a greater capacity to give.”

Jones’ advice about sharing what you learn is alongside’s mission to share our stories because as we do that, we are “paying it forward” to others as we impart our knowledge and ideas. Let us not forget the advice to become a genius that someone who is considered by many to be the greatest genius of all time once gave. Albert Einstein advised, “If you want your children to be brilliant, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be geniuses, read them more fairy tales.” Thomas Edison also loved to read and Edison’s parents loved to read. They read to him works of good literature and history. They had many books that young Edison eagerly devoured. Before he was 12, he had read works by Dickens, Shakespeare, Edward Gibbon’s Fall of the Roman Empire and Decline, and more. Reading opens doors for individuals, teaches people things, and exposes people to new notions.

There is power in stories. Reading changes lives. One of the reasons is collecting stories is so that people can read them. Again, interesting how it all comes together. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones purports that knowledge is nothing if it is not given away freely. Sharing stories is central to our work at We want knowledge to be disseminated through sharing stories.