Does your child like reading?
He loves reading what?
Perhaps in our parents’ hearts, we all have a list of books that we want our children to read. We will support and encourage our children to read books that we think are [educational]. If the books our children read are not what we like, will you continue to support and encourage them, or will you simply and roughly prevent them from reading [idle books] in your eyes?
Look at the experience of Dr. Pan Wenying, a bioengineer at Stanford University, when he was a child, and you will know how to choose.
I was born in a small town in Southwest China where education is not well developed. First I studied in Tsinghua University, then I went to Stanford University to finish my PhD in bioengineering. Now I work in Silicon Valley.
I feel that I am just an ordinary person, with an ordinary IQ, an ordinary family, and an ordinary education before college.
If I was different from the children in other small cities in what when I was a child, it was probably that I read a lot of so-called “idle books” in those carefree days.
1. In the noisy living environment, books open the door to the outside world.
When I was a child, I knew a little about the world. I had a lot of time to look out of the window and stare blankly. In that era when TV plays were not rampant, the world outside the window was full of realistic dramas without electricity.
Opposite our building is a rural resettlement house, and the residents in it are struggling to adapt to the life in the city.
A couple on the first floor opened a canteen. The poor and cheap couple were sad. The couple quarreled incessantly. When the quarrel was fierce, the woman ran after the man with a kitchen knife all over the street.
On the third floor lived a widowed old man, always dressed in the same black cloth, who came home trembling with two dishes every day.
On the fifth floor lived a single mother with a young child. When the mother went out to do business during the day, she locked her three or four-year-old son at home. The lonely child often climbed up the windowsill fence and shouted at the downstairs.
In those days, books are my secret passage to the outside world, making me immersed in the oil, salt, sauce and vinegar of the real world at one end, but imagining poetry and the distance at the other end. However, it is the little light from the distant world that guides me to the outside world.
2. Although I do not have a well-off family, reading has shaped my thinking level and values.
Most of the time, chatting with a person can probably guess a person’s family background, because a person’s speech and the topics he talks about reveal his values and thinking level.
However, in addition to family of origin, it can also be one’s own reading or the online classroom in the Internet era to shape one’s thinking level and values.
Before, a post called “In this era, it is difficult for a poor family to have a noble son” was widely circulated in Tianya.
The content of the post is very realistic and bony. Small-town youth are indeed prone to the limitations of small-town youth’s thinking, but I think this does not necessarily mean that a child from an ordinary or even poor family has no chance to have a rich life.
One cannot decide the family one was born in, but one can acquire knowledge and broaden one’s horizon through one’s own efforts.
At least for myself, this is a very applicable principle.
I hardly ever went out of Sichuan before I was in college. I only started to learn 26 English letters and contact the computer keyboard in junior high school.
When I entered Stanford, some of my classmates used computers as toys from an early age, and some traveled around the world with their parents from an early age. However, I did not feel that different growth experiences brought us a huge gap in knowledge and ability.
During my childhood and youth in a corner of western Sichuan, I had the honor to read many good books from all over the world and from different times. These books shaped my values and world outlook and gave me courage to move towards a wider world.
3. Some books and writers that have the greatest influence on me
When I was a child, a kind of book rental stall was popular in small towns. Like those stalls selling fried potatoes and snacks, it was opened at the gate of primary and secondary schools. It was usually some idle books such as martial arts, romance and cartoons. Usually, you could squat there for 30 to 50 cents to watch for an afternoon.
San Mao, let me realize that the outside world is wonderful.
When I was in the fifth and sixth grades of primary school, I read San Mao’s “The Story of the Sahara” and “Wanshui Qian Shan Traveling All over” at the book rental stall. It made me begin to imagine a weak Eastern woman walking through the vast desert and the withered grasslands of Central America.
Her exquisite writing showed me that the outside world was still very big besides the current market life. During that time, I collected all the travel notes I could find in the small town and was obsessed with all kinds of legends of wandering around the world.
Li Leshi and Jane Goodal made me determined to be an independent and strong woman.
While little girls of the same age are worshipping Nicholas Tse and Wang Leehom, I am worshipping Li Leshi and Jane Goodal.
Li Leshi is the first Chinese woman to set foot on the world’s three poles (South Pole, North Pole and Mount Everest). She is also a photographer and writer. She has devoted all her efforts to establish a polar museum to promote public awareness of polar protection.
Jane Goodal was originally a British female nurse who studied gorillas in the Tanzanian rainforest in Africa for 30 years because of her love for wildlife. She devoted the rest of her life to the establishment of [Roots and shoots] the global organization for children’s environmental protection.
More than a decade later, at a lecture in San Francisco, I actually met Jane Goodal, who was over 70 years old. At an age when she was supposed to enjoy her old age, she was still frequently commuting to different continents to give various environmental protection lectures.
Because my childhood idol was such an independent and powerful woman, when I was growing up, I didn’t think that what could not be done as a girl.
In primary school, as the only girl, she mixed with a group of boys to play table tennis. In high school, she was the only girl who competed in physics. Until now, it was often the only woman in a group of engineers and scientists when the company held meetings.
Only when I grew up did I realize that being a woman has a lot of pressure and constraints from society and family.
Words like [getting a good test is not as good as getting a good marriage] are not a joke, and [female doctor] is the label of the third kind of person, and it is not just a joke.
The feminist movement in the West has been striving to advocate equal rights for men and women for decades. Until a few years ago, Sheryl Sandberg, a female Facebook executive, still called on women to take a step forward in pursuing their careers and lives in < >.
As a young man, I was only enlightened by those women with the world in their hearts.
Shi Tiesheng, let me know more about loving life
When I was in junior high school, I began to enter puberty and my body developed rapidly. It was an age when I declared my sovereignty in life with rebellion, and it was also an age when I began to imagine myself living in how for the first time.
Books became my clue to the answer. At that time, there was only one bookstore in the small town-the state-owned Xinhua Bookstore. In addition to the practical technical books on agricultural breeding and pesticide insecticide, there was also a large bookcase of literary masterpieces.
Leaning on the large solid wood bookcases of some years, I spent countless long and pleasant weekends.
What influenced me most during that period was Shi Tiesheng’s novel “Life is like a String”. Shi Tiesheng suddenly lost his legs at the age of 20 when he was living young and frivolous. The pain and loss of being trapped in a wheelchair turned into a deeper and more transparent understanding of life.
< < Life is like a string > > is a fable. In essence, it means that life is meaningless. We come naked and finally leave naked.
However, we still need to give life a meaning and a purpose, because we need a visible and tangible purpose to avoid emptiness and perplexity in life. We also need such a purpose to enrich and enrich life.
After reading more books, I realized that this is actually an existentialist idea.
In the history of western thought, existentialism deconstructs the traditional way of life and loosens the ties to people’s spirit. This means a kind of freedom. Since life has no established meaning, people have the freedom to define their own life.
Shen Congwen and Wang Xiaobo aroused my yearning for spiritual freedom.
During that period, two other writers also aroused my yearning for spiritual freedom. One is Shen Congwen and the other is Wang Xiaobo.
Shen Congwen’s Xiangxi is full of simple, romantic and free atmosphere. What I remember deeply is a collection of short stories called “Xiaojing under the Moon”, which describes the wild and unrestrained love of Xiangxi ethnic minorities without the shackles of moral codes.
Wang Xiaobo is known as the “knight of freedom”. If there is a theme in his many essays, that theme is freedom and wisdom. The most typical one is the article < < a maverick pig > >.
Because when I was in my teens, I was enlightened by this kind of existentialism and liberalism, which gave me courage, made me want to live a short life as wonderful and interesting as possible, and made me know that a regular life in a small town was not what I wanted.
When I was a child, I studied hard. Apart from my curiosity about knowledge, I also had a motive force to hope that I would not go to the monotonous and repetitive small town life day after day in my eyes.
4. Books have taught me how to view material and money and how to define success.
When I was in primary school, it was the years when the state-owned enterprises were reformed. The parents of many students around me experienced the tide of being laid off. Some students’ families began to turn green and yellow, while some families became rich overnight. Crowded bicycle flow to pick up and drop off children at the school gate also gradually appeared cars, and students began to compare with each other.
The rapid accumulation of wealth and the sharp increase in material consumption have impacted many Chinese people’s view of money. This is especially true for me, whose values had not yet taken shape. How’s view of money and material and how to define success have become huge question marks.
When I was in high school, I happened to read some American novels and movies full of reflective and critical spirit of capitalism.
Among them, the most impressive ones are the novels “Catcher in the Rye”, “The Great Gatsby” and the movie “Graduate”.
It is difficult to understand the background and spiritual connotation of these books and movies in their teens. At that time, I just felt that the protagonists in the books had extremely rich material life, but their hearts were extremely empty, and finally they went to degeneration and destruction.
Almost at the same time, I also read books like Walden, which actively chose to stay away from material desires, return to simplicity and nature, and pursue inner peace.
Thoreau, author of Walden, graduated from Harvard University. For two years, he was far away from the city, built cabins by the lake deep in the dense forest, and lived a self-sufficient life.
Of course, most people’s lives will not be so extreme, but these books make people think about how to view such important issues as money, material desires and success that they need to face all their lives.
Reading as a teenager sowed a seed in my heart, making me understand that in addition to food and clothing, life can not only pursue a decent and successful life in the secular sense, but also pursue spiritual prosperity and physical and mental balance.
5. Stay in Silicon Valley and be glad that my reading experience brought me to this day.
Silicon Valley is a place full of entrepreneurial myths of starting from scratch and becoming rich overnight. It is also a place with great emphasis on personal values and career success.
In those days, most of my primary and junior high school classmates are still living in small towns in my hometown, but I actually went far away and stayed in Silicon Valley to work after graduating from Stanford University.
But now I have understood that different lives have different happiness and hardship. If my life comes to an abrupt end, I will still feel that my life is worth it.
On the way to the wider world, I have seen many scenery, experienced many different lives and done many meaningful things. All this is due to the [idle books] I read in those years.