Every once in a while I catch an article written by a young adult that is both enlightening and heartwarming. High School freshman, Eva Johnson shared her thoughts with the Allentown Morning Call about how Reading Books Gives a Chance to Escape to Unknown Places. She begins with a story of how her younger brother said “the most earth-shattering, heart-breaking thing” to her.
A disdain for reading is not an anomaly when it comes to grade-school boys. Girls (and women), comprise over 80% of today’s readership. It is not just a grade school issue; Men in general are not prolific readers in comparison to women. Eva’s grade-school brother is just vocalizing a well-documented indifference that I think at times, part of the modern male Y chromosome. Oh contraire, some might say, that has to be a twenty-first century phenomenon. Most of our great poets and authors through the centuries were men. I may be banned from blogosphere for this, but let us keep in mind that less than a century ago, women weren’t encouraged to participate in literature (Let us have a moment of silent reverence for the women pioneers who risked social ostracization to be authors).
Eva’s love of reading was a refuge from shyness amid the raucousness of louder voices. I too, sought that refuge as a child. Instead of choosing visual media via television and internet, Eva chose books, because “Reading makes you feel like you’re not alone … that the world isn’t so harsh … and if everyone leaves you, you always have the most reliable friends, the characters inside your precious books.”
Eva feels young people don’t read anymore, unless “it means to scan mindlessly over your friend’s tweets for hours on end.” I share Eva’s view, something I parodied last year in, Texting – Conversational Spam. Recreational reading was and still is a downtime thing. We had more of it when I was a kid. With today’s oversupply of extracurricular activities, I’m surprised anyone has time to read. Media entertainment the last fifty years has glutted us with too many options. It’s so much easier to wait for the movie or cable version, which allows for multitasking, like texting, or surfing Instagram.
National Library Week begins April 14; a celebration of reading, and recognition for authors who work to fill the shelves, physical and digital. First, read Eva Johnson’s charmingly eloquent essay in The Morning Call. Share it with your friends. Secondly, read a book in honor of National Library Week. Don’t do it for me, do it for yourself, because reading is escapism of the highest order, and in Eva’s words, “reading is fun.”