The choices were less than spectacular. One book had a blue cover and the name of the book in gold font. The other looked old and had a picture of a scary wolf with large fangs. My second-grade teacher read to the class a few minutes each day and she had given me the honor of selecting which book she would read next. I skimmed the pages of both books, but neither had any pictures. Since our neighbor’s dog, who looked a lot like the wolf on the cover of the second book, had come close to taking a big bite out of my leg on my short walk to the bus stop the previous day, the choice was easy: the bland, nondescript book.
I walked back to my seat and one of my friends teased that I should have picked the book with the wolf. The teacher though said that I had made a good choice, that you should never judge a book by its cover, and started reading to the class, introducing us to Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie. Of course, I had chosen C. S. Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Like millions of people the world over, I fell in love with the four and their Narnia adventures and especially of Aslan, the all-powerful lion who sacrifices himself to save Edmund.
Keeping an open mind
I learned a valuable lesson that day about books and life. In fact, it’s a lesson that keeps sending out reminders.
When my daughter was in grade school, we both started to hear lots of talk about the first two Harry Potter books. I was sure she would like it—the series was right up her ally—but I doubted that a young adult fantasy series could speak much to me, a busy father and husband. I spent my days working to provide and support my family, not living in some fantasy world with mysterious wands and magical spells.
When I finally had a quiet moment to myself though, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and within minutes of reading I was hooked. I was right there with Harry on Number 4 Privet Drive, jumping in the air to grab my acceptance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Think before you judge
My teacher’s words of wisdom hold true to other things too, beside just books. Case in point, I drove home several years ago from the first day on a new job in complete shock. I wondered what I had been thinking to take the job. My coworkers seemed nothing like me. They seemed to know so much more than me. They spouted off key details about the job like they were talking about their favorite TV show. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever fit in with them. Of course, within a few months, I was talking the same talk as them. In addition, they soon became friends.
All it took was time.
Yes, you most certainly can not judge a book by its cover.