Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Get them reading
I am sort of biased here. Ever since I was a little kid I was a voracious reader, reading anything and everything that I could get my hands on. It should be no surprise that I ended up being an author later on in life… which also contributes to my bias I suppose. As kids we learn to read, but for some it is chore, something to endure until the ‘fun stuff’ can begin. Reading is a necessity, we are told that and we accept it as truth because of our dependence on language. We need it to read menus. We need it to pass through our education. We need it to communicate with other people. But for some, reading just isn’t fun. For those of us that devour books, reading offers us an escape from the mundane reality. It takes us out of our lives momentarily and takes us to other worlds where our problems are not the central issue. Instead of books, most teenagers worship glossy magazines and reality television shows. How many of them would know that the term ‘Big Brother’ originated as part of George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 and not just as a title for a television show? In my teen years we worshipped Ten Things I Hate About You, and those of us who were wise enough to know, knew it was based on the Shakespeare play The Taming of The Shrew and that there are several references throughout the movie to that very play. J K Rowling got a lot of kids reading again with the Harry Potter series. Kids who weren’t inclined to read lined up at bookstores at all hours to read the next instalment. Then came the movies, which as far as movies based on books, are good enough. The Hunger Games series is another that people apparently can’t put down the books, though I am unsure if it is something that I would be willing to read or go see the movie. The Twilight Saga, books and movies, brought even more readers in. Even my own sister, who used to make fun of my Buffy the Vampire Slayer collection, devoured the books and movies. I have the first book, brought to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve read the entire series, but I can’t really get into super shiny, friendly vampires without being too cynical. I also went to see the movie at the cinema, using a freebie ticket from a volunteer thing in the weeks before. I think, when it comes down to it, yes kids do need to read more, but it’s also about finding the books and stories that best engage them, as opposed to throwing books at them constantly and expecting them to find a love of reading that way.