Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

29 November 2007


I cannot remember ever NOT knowing how to read. Honest. I remember that I entered first grade already knowing how to read and how bored I was with "See Dick and Jane run. Run, Dick! Run, Jane!" But I really don't remember where or how I learned. I also vividly remember being told at the age of six (which was after first grade for me) in the public library that I couldn't check out a big pile of books that I had lovingly selected because they were for big kids and grownups. I started crying then and my Dad of course came over to ask what was wrong. When I told him, he informed the librarian in no uncertain terms that I was to be allowed to check out ANY book I could lift up and place on the checkout counter. My father became even more of a hero to me at that moment. Years later, he didn't let me down when he stood up to the entire school board and defended my right to not only read the Communist Manifesto but to also bring it to junior high school. I had brought it to school to ask my civics teacher about some of what Marx and Engels had written ... and I will admit that as a natural trouble-maker I also brought it just to stir things up. I stirred things up enough to get the book confiscated. Did I mention that my parents were readers? Did I mention that I'm passionate about reading? So are my siblings and my spouse. But apparently that's not the case with everyone.

A National Endowment for the Arts report states that young people just aren't reading like we used to, though. Among other facts:

* only 30% of 13-year-olds read almost every day

* the number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004 - that is 1 in 5 kids don't read for fun

* Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure

* The average person between ages 15 and 24 spends 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day watching TV and 7 minutes reading

According to Diane Gioia, the Chair of the NEA,
"The poorest Americans who read did twice as much volunteering and charity work as the richest who did not read. The habit of regular reading awakens something inside a person that makes him or her take their own life more seriously and at the same time develops the sense that other people's lives are real."

I don't know if these kinds of trends can be changed for the better, but I think we have to try. So, a number of bloggers who are also passionate readers and feel that same way that I do are now asking folks to take time one day in January - the 10th to be exact - to stop blogging and use the blogging time to read. A book. A magazine. A newspaper. And if you have kids, read to them, too. If you're a reader, you'll feel good and if you're not a reader, you'll feel good, too. I promise. And when the day is done, if you want to share what you've read, feel free to post it here or head over to Soccer Mom in Denial or Jenn in Holland and tell us about it.

If you want to get involved, blog about this. Pass it on! Steal the cool button down there ↓ or over there → to post on your entry. Please. Then follow up by making January 10 your own DAY TO READ.

DAY TO READ campaign

And thanks for reading this.

  • On 11/29/2007 1:01 PM, Blogger Hammer said…

    I agree with you 100% I was reading like crazy as soon as I could pick up a book.

    I make my kids read every day. Even if they complain I can tell they really like it later when they tell me the story.

  • On 11/29/2007 6:11 PM, Blogger soccer mom in denial said…

    That is a terrific story to share about your dad. And thanks so much for playing, err, reading along.

  • On 11/29/2007 7:23 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

    I loved the story about your dad and checking out your AMAZING library. How cool!

  • On 11/29/2007 7:23 PM, Blogger GFS3 said…

    One day isn't enough to get us back on track with reading. This is an enormous problem with dire consequence for the future. Here's one solution that I think makes sense and it starts with a simple premise -- make reading enjoyable:

  • On 11/29/2007 9:16 PM, Blogger Gunfighter said…

    I'm in! My post is up, too!

  • On 12/02/2007 5:59 AM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    I wish I could share a similar story about my dad. But, no. My mom (bless her soul) was an avid reader, but my dad had no use for it. He used to roar about the house: "David (sic) and those goddamned books!" He believed reading was a waste of time which was better spent working.

    Thankfully, *I* believe working is a waste of time, better spent reading. Thankfully, all three of my children are avid readers.

    Having said all of that, I still don't read as much -- purely for pleasure -- as I'd like to.

  • On 12/03/2007 3:04 PM, Blogger Jenn in Holland said…

    Brilliant. You rock.


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