A Rant About Reading
Today a rant about reading.
My brother cut his reading teeth on comic books Until he
was ten, his entire allowance was spent on comic books.
Among them were The Flash, Archie, Batman, Superman, Scrooge
McDuck, the Disney family, and the Loony Tune gang. As soon
as he got his allowance he would buy that week's quota of
comic books, run home and plop down in the middle of the
living room floor and read them all afternoon, entering a
hypnotic trance that closed off the real world. He'd hardly
move a muscle except to turn the pages and reach for the
next comic book. There were times my mother would be
tempted to put a mirror to his mouth to make sure he was
still alive. He would spend the rest of the week rereading
his new comics as well as those from previous weeks that
still survived, longing for the next Thursday and his next
allowance. He was mesmerized by the pictures; they led his
captured eyes and mind to the words in the white verbal
clouds that drifted around the mouths.
He read his comic books on the living room rug, stomach
down, chin resting on his cupped palms, balanced on his
elbows. He read them on his bed, at times on his back
holding them high above him and at other times draped draped
over a pillow. He read about his champions while
eating his breakfast of champions. He hid them away and
read them secretively at school and lost a few that were
discovered. He rolled them in his back pocket and took them
with him wherever he went. He read them by the beam of a
flashlight hidden under the covers way past
The covers fell off and, despite liberal applications of
scotch tape, pages loosened themselves from their stapled
anchors and soon disappeared. Remaining pages got torn. He
read and reread them until they fell apart in his hands or
were nothing but torn tatters.
Adults would sometimes scold him for reading comics. They
called them trash. They ought to have encouraged him.
Comics opened my brother's world and mind to other worlds
and created an appetite to read. Soon he graduated to the
Hardy Boys, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and Jack London.
I believe that children do need to read great works.
Eventually. But first, get them to read. Get them to love
reading. Read anything. I don't care what they read. It
can be non-fiction or westerns or ghost stories. It can be
Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss or the sports section. I just want
them to read.
The only relevant problem is how to get them started. A lot
of people will argue that to do that isn't that simple. It
IS that simple! Blitz them! Blitz them early and get
reading materials, any reading materials into their hands.
They'll want to read about the things that matter the most
to them and then they'll be readers for life. THAT is the
way to make readers!