September 24, 2020

By JODY ANDERSON

I enjoy reading, which seems to be more and more rare. It is a source of enjoyment for me, but for children it is so much more.
Reading is a key part of early childhood education. There are plenty of statistics that show a direct correlation between a child’s reading and their performance in school.
A report by an expert panel on early reading in Ontario states this about children who struggle to read during Grades 1 to 3:
“Academically, they have a much harder time keeping up with their peers, and they increasingly fall behind in other subjects. They are far more likely to suffer low self-esteem and, in their teen years, are more likely to drop out without completing high school.”
There is no question reading is an important part of education. Does it stop being important when you grasp it? Perhaps the school system has taught students to read but in the approach has made them feel like reading is purely academic and not for entertainment. It could also be a misunderstanding of what reading a great book is like.
When I am reading a good book I find it much more exhilarating and generally more involving than television. It is simply put, more enjoyable. Television is great too, or can be, but books give the freedom of having your own interpretation of a character where television gives you an actor’s portrayal. Add in the celebrity obsessed culture we live in where you are often seeing these actors out of character and hearing about their real lives and all of a sudden it can be very difficult to have any immersion in a show at all.
This isn’t exactly about books being “better,” but more about books being worthwhile. I don’t read a ton of books per year myself, I watch sports and play video games and do other things, but I do read regularly and I do enjoy it. Why is it that a lot of other people don’t seem to? It could be a general reliance on word of mouth and people taking initiative to seek books out. If people aren’t reading or talking about books then word of mouth cannot occur.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an example of a fairly recent hit book. It is one of the few I have seen people reading in public regularly. Why that one? If you look at the one book everybody went out and read was not much more than a standard mystery story, though granted, with a magnetic lead character. That book had advertising and word of mouth going for it and then movie adaptations, both American and Swedish.
If you are somebody who has read that book and nothing else since, or read the Harry Potter series and similarly stopped reading, ask yourself why. Is it because you are not really into books? Could it be that the spark was never lit? Or is it because you haven’t been told what you should be reading?