Ranting On Reading

February 10th, 2006 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Do not think that we are opposed to reading — if we could not read, we would likely go mad. And, yes, we’ve already heard that joke. It wasn’t funny the first million times. Yet we do enjoy these regularly timed “Why Kids Won’t Read” stories, if only because they reinforce the idea that making reading a chore — and one must consider that unlike many of the other subjects studied in school, reading is one that lives on a pleasure activity after the final exams* — turns kids away from the task.

But that, you see, is the point: we read the books, we were tested on them and we passed or failed accordingly. Reading books was, therefore, the stuff of school in exactly the same way as was trigonometry or chucking a javelin — and since leaving my esteemed seat of learning, I am as likely to curl up with Jane Austen for the fun of it as I am to flirt with a cosine or risk the wrong end of a spear.

There is a difference between learning to read for context and meaning and analysis, and learning to read for the sheer joy of plunging into a story. There is also, we think, an odd belief that once a book is declared a “classic”, it immediately becomes appropriate for youthful readers. Makes you wonder.

Still, if we are to give Mr Motion the benefit of all doubt and believe that he honestly seeks and finds pleasure in, say, James Joyce, then I shall say this: if you want fewer adults such as me, not reading books at all, you need fewer adults like him, stuffing them up the noses of children.

* – Of course, what you do with algebra after high school is your own business.

File Under: Square Pegs