I grew up in a home with no TV.
And yes, there were cars back then, for those of you who are now wondering how old I am.
There were even TVs back then, we just didn’t have one.
Every Friday my dad would grocery shop after work and take me to the library on his way to the store. I’d search row after row of shelves for books that I hadn’t read yet, check out the maximum amount allowed (ten, I think) and read them before the following Friday.
While my friends were rushing home from school to watch cartoons; Popeye, Looney Tunes, The Three Stooges and the Little Rascals, I went home to read.
And I couldn’t wait.
Words threaded together, creating pictures, people and stories have intrigued me as far back as I can remember. As I read descriptions of places and personalities, I would imagine them in my mind. I could see it all, the backdrops, settings and what each person looked like.
Many a night, when I should have been asleep, I was under the blankets with a flashlight and a book I couldn’t put down.
By the time I was in middle school I had a fondness for horse stories; Misty, Black Beauty and My Friend Flicka, to name just a few.
I’ve had a lifetime love affair with books and reading was and still is one of my favorite getaways, a form of relaxation and fun.
It’s hard to be a decent writer without reading. Because I enjoyed reading so much, I also developed a fondness for writing.
Putting my thoughts into words forces my mind to be deliberate about my own opinions, viewpoints and desires. Seeing my heart written out in black and white give me reason to be both intentional and reasonable in how I think about life and the myriad of emotion and events swirling around me.
I’m currently taking a writer’s course and am being told that reading has changed in America.
Technology and finger tip access to information, texting, social web pages and constant entertainment has moved our attention span meter next to zero. The latest generation now reads and writes in small bites (or should it be bytes), if at all.
“LOL!” (laughing out loud, for the few who may not know)
“OMW “ (on my way)
“Where R U?”
I’ve been informed that people don’t read anymore, they scan, scrolling thru web pages on mobile devices faster than film frames roll in an animated movie.
Writers are being told to create shorter sentences that are “tight” and have punch, be more attentive to white space in relation to words on a page and hook people with interest and excitement in the first paragraph to instantly catch and keep their attention.
While these are good writing techniques to follow, I admit to being disappointed for the reason they are being suggested.
Maybe I’m old-school; after all I grew up without a TV…
But…instead of dumbing down our writing, how about we teach kids to read again. Really read.
Gather our children around us on the sofa. Turn off the TV, smart phone and tablet and read a book out loud. Together.
Find time during the day; at breakfast before school, after dinner or at bedtime, whatever works for the family schedule, to read.
Start when the kids are little. Let them fall in love with books.
Statistics show that children who are read to and who read do better in school and become lifelong learners.
And if that isn’t enough motivation, some of those readers could become famous authors, publishing book after made-for-movie book, creating sufficient wealth to take care of you into your old age.
So read, read, read!
P.S. I hope you didn’t just scan this post but actually read it.