I spent all of last week in Tennessee with my lovely wife celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. Every minute of every day was amazing. It was without a doubt the best trip that I have ever been on. Each day we took a hike through the mountains. Each hike was breathtaking.
After one of our hikes, we climbed in the car and started heading back to our cabin. About two tenths of a mile down the road we saw a gigantic American Black Bear. My wife stopped the car and we watched the bear cross the street in front of us, not 20 yards away. The bear took its time and we sat there in shock (I am completely obsessed with bears, but we will need to leave that for another post.). After crossing the road, the bear headed back into the woods and quietly disappeared.
Seeing the bear it its natural habitat was the most amazing moment that I have ever experienced in nature. As I reflected on our bear sighting, I couldn’t help but think about how it was a million times better than anything I could ever see in a zoo. The more I thought about the bear, the more Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan kept popping into my head. I’d hate to giveaway the ending to Ivan, but the following line in the book is a powerful one. It is a line that I cannot get out of my head.
“A good zoo,” Stella said, “is a large domain. A wild cage. A safe place to be. It has room to roam and humans who don’t hurt.” She pauses, considering her words. “A good zoo is how humans make amends.”
Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan
I have spent a ton of time the last few days thinking about zoos, but this post isn’t about zoos. This post is about how book can change the life of a reader. Seeing a black bear in nature caused me to think long and hard about how I feel about zoos. It allowed me to appreciate an animal in nature more than I ever would have if I hadn’t read the book.
We Nerdy Book Clubbers talk often how reading fiction develops empathy. Being able to experience this first hand has me so pumped up about the upcoming school year. I cannot wait to give students an opportunity to have their lives changes by a book.