Reading The Forbidden Fruit
July 12, 2011 - 2:49 pm
Do you know why your kids prefer computer games to reading? Oh, sure, part of it that they’re more visual, more immediate. But that alone doesn’t explain the decline of reading over the last few decades. No, not even our wretched schools explain that.
For all those decades, our society has told the kids reading was good for them and “important.” They’re not stupid. Of course they don’t want to do that. Now, TV and computer games, those are bad for you and therefore they must be fun, right?
I got told that reading was a time-wasting, no-good folly. I got told books would rot my brain. I got told I thought too much and lived in cloud cuckoo land. And I read every chance I got and in the most unlikely places to do it. I did the same with the kids. It worked.
But I had to fight against the schools. The schools wanted to give them candy and burgers for reading x-number of books. They wanted to make them participate in “readathons.” They wanted to make them feel that reading was difficult and important, and writing was performed by magic creatures with messages or something… At the same time, of course, publishers were selecting for worthiness (sometimes wordiness too, but not often. They tended to be minimalists) and message and “importance.” Is it any wonder fewer people read? It’s a wonder people read at all.
And we need to get the word out: reading is fun. You have to be careful, or you end up doing too much of it, and you don’t sleep enough, and you neglect your work. You learn too much and you think too much, and then you don’t fit in right, and you start finding sitcoms boring and predictable. And then you won’t get your friends’ reference jokes. Oh, sure, you’ll have other reference jokes, but who will you share them with? – gasp! – not those WEIRDOS who read, right? Reading could ruin your life. You know that guy with the disheveled hair and the reddened eyes in your class? Yeah. He looks like he just tumbled out of bed because he didn’t sleep last night. He was up all night reading a book. He’s a bad influence. Stay away from him.
Look, the gatekeepers are still there, but we can get around them. Let’s curl up in the big easy chair with a trashy book and kick off our shoes. I have chocolate with marshmallows, and not a hint of broccoli in sight. (And yes, in future there will be reviews of those trashy books.)
A more wordy (though not necessarily worthy) version of this post is at
According To Hoyt