Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why Reading will not Die (And Pant-Hikers)

For every person who loves reading, there seems to be ten grumpy-pant-trouser-hikers who will say:

"Nobody reads anymore."


"I just don't have time to read."

Or (brace yourselves, librarians):

"I just don't like reading."

Figure A: (Pictured above) A man who does not like reading, in his natural habitat.

I am terribly sorry if this was damaging for you to hear, readers. Let's pick up our brain matter, insert it back through our ears and noses from whence it exploded from, and continue.

Is it all back in? still have a bit of frontal lobe on your cardigan.

Right, let's continue.

The fact of the matter is, there are many individuals who say those things about reading. And if you haven't heard these things before, then you probably are a radical who relates only with bookish people, have great luck in family and acquaintances (killed the non-bookish people)...

Figure B: Hannibal Lecter, dealing with non-bookish people.

 ....or you live under a charming rock. In which case, I am looking for lodgings.

 But: I am not here to judge life choices. Only to look at the complexity behind them.

So, why do people not read? And why, if so, is this non-reading damaging?

I know I am preaching to the choir here, essentially, but there are things we can do to help others love reading. For instance, many were not given the background, or resources for reading. We as educators, and librarians, and book-lovers can provide this for others. We can also remind parents that teaching their child to read is a job of parenthood in the same way a parent needs to help a child walk, and talk, and "to-bathroom" in proper places. (<--Why I will probably not be a parent.) 

Parents, if you have fallen behind, PLEASE read to your children. I cannot say this strongly enough. It not only is cognitively healthy, (like a brain vitamin smoothie), but it will help your child get ahead in the world. Our world is ever-changing, and ever-growing. For your child to understand the complexity of the world, and its people, and its cultures, how can they have this knowledge? READ.

Educators, read to your students. There is never an age in which reading to a student is not beneficial. Believe me.

Teens, make reading a dialogue between you your friends. I know for me it was my friends and my inside jokes, "online adventures" (oh, tumblr and goodreads), and difficult conversations we could not have in person.

Now, evangelistic rant out of the way, I am going to talk briefly about the most important part of reading:

Reading helps you, unlike anything else, understand the complexity of other human beings. 

And this is why books, in whatever form, will not be replaced.

Granted, you can learn much about people from watching stories in the form of well-written movies, TV shows, online blogging, and videos, but all of these mediums have their limitations. And the greatest limitation of these mediums is one thing: time.

You are in a movie for an hour and a half; an online video lasts for a few minutes. Your well-written TV show will probably be over in forty, and plagued with heart-medication commercials (among others). But a book is a long-term relationship with people, ideas, and events. When you read a book over a series of hours, and days, you think about, and process complex ideas over an extended period of time. And this shapes the mind. This is where the transformation takes place.

Complex ideas take time. Complex ideas need to be present in a dialogue between a writer, and a reader. The most difficult issues we have to tackle as a human race are present in books, and through these books, we can better understand each other.

And better understanding the complexity of others, and our world: Isn't that a large part of why we're here?