The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
I agree completely with this statement. Some students have a sincere lack of motivation to read largely due to their parents' nightly ritual of 3-5 hours of television every night. I'm all for being a coach potato once in awhile...especially with shows like Lost and Jericho... but it should not be a substitute for learning.
It is not soley the couch potato routine. part of it goes to parents showing a love for books and reading but there is a major factor due to the schools, based soley on the population that I observed in my daughters classes.
My daughter loves to read and has been reading since kindergarten. I have heard young kids say that reading was boring and to be honest looking at the books they ask first and second graders to read I would agree. In my daughters second grade class five years ago they had a read to a parent day each week. I went a couple of times and each time the children at the table would turn the book upside down and read to me. This pretty much all of them doing this. I asked why they did this and was told the book was too easy and this made it harder and more fun.
I said to them oh you have already read that book and they said NO. This was the first time.
They learned to read upside down to give themselves a challenge. Did the teacher do anything to build upon this NO.
Even the child you came into the class not knowing English was bored by these books she had already progressed so far.
The love of reading comes, inpart, mainly, from seeing others at a very young age read and love it.
as a PS my daughter read the lord of the rings trilogy at 9 along with many of her friend and CS Lewis's space trilogy at 10. That one is a bit unusual, I admit.
Next time you are in someone else's house, note whether the TV's, video games, DVD's, and VHS tapes outnumber books. In our house, the books win by a factor of about 80, and there aren't any video games at all.
Well, our house has a lot of DVD's on display when you first come in. But then you see the overfilled bookshelves in the dining room, the basement, the boxes of books in the garage...
I bought a set of Heinlien's "juveniles" for my 11 year old daughter. Partly to keep up with her reading level, and partly because I don't want to share mine! ;-) She's limited to a max of 2 hours screen time (TV+computer+gameboy) each day during the shcool year.
Just finished re-reading 1984 on my laptop. It was easier to download it from Project Gutenberg than to figure out which box had it. Maybe putting it on the computer might get kids intersted?
As far as reading on my laptop, Baen Books is EVIL! EVIL I TELL YOU. Yeah, sure, the first taste is free...
If somehow you were able pry them away from their televisions long enough to read the book aloud to them, I'm convinced that before long they would stick their fingers in their ears and start writhing as if they were in agony...
I dunno. Used to be an avid reader, got stuck in the TV rut, and what got me unstuck was a few long trips with books on tape for entertainment. Once your mind gets into that mode of being read to, you realize it's ten times more entertaining than any TV show.
Agreed that if you want kids who read, ya gotta start with parents who read. I was never limited in my television-watching, videogame-playing, or internet time, and I still was such a voracious reader that I got in trouble in school for trying to read during the lecture. I still feel vaguely twitchy if there's nothing to read within reach, or if I don't have at least one book-in-progress.
My parents read for pleasure and read to me, but what really sticks out in my childhood memories was watching my father carefully choose which would be his 10-15 books to take on vacation, and extending this ritual to me in a ceremonial visit to the library and bookstore before a trip. It seared the idea on my head that leisure time is equivalent to time to read- TV was for when you didn't have enough time or energy to get into the book and was therefore less "good".
As an addendum, if I hadn't already been a voracious reader of a few years when school decided it was time to teach me to read, I'm sure I would have been put off it completely. The first things they gave us to read were dry-as-dust readers with little imagination behind them- less than afternoon cartoons- and then they gave us the sort of books that people want to be able to say they have read rather than that they actually enjoy reading. I can still count the number of assigned books from K-12 that I actually enjoyed reading rather than endured on the fingers of one hand.
People don't want to read classics in part because school has convinced them that "classic" is synonymous with "dull, painful, and analyzed to death by a burnt-out English teacher".
"... and I still was such a voracious reader that I got in trouble in school for trying to read during the lecture."
My fourth grade teacher let me read during spelling tests. It was easier than listening to my carefully contrived heavy sighs.
Not all classics are old. A well written and accurate history can often be more enjoyable and instructional than any fictional novel.
For example, right now I'm reading David McCullough's biography of John Adams. Not only does it follow his life, it also does an excellent job of giving you a feel for what was actually going on in the colonies on a much more personal and political level than anything else I've read to date.
I just came across one sentence which surprised me, because I had never heard this fact before:
"On March 14 , Congress voted to disarm all Tories."
I don't know about the rest of you, but I do not read "the classics." I find most of them dull, unimaginative, and pointless. Most books that are considered the big "classics" are known largely because of their controversial nature - particularly during the time of their initial publication.
Only an academic would judge someone's intelligence by the ratio of books to other forms of entertainment they own. I find maybe one or two books a YEAR that I would actually want to own - which implies I'd want to read them again. The books I do own I have read many times. I find most of the really "important" books of our time ("1984," "A Brave New World," etc) paranoid, badly written (the prose of some of these books is frankly horrific), and more culturally-reliant than most albums, movies, or even games.
"and there aren't any video games at all."
Something else you and I are in complete agreement on, DJ. I don't allow video games in my house. They are a colossal waste of time and the culture it has spawned is terribly nauseating to me.
Maybe it's *what* classics are read which makes one put their fingers in their ears. I can't stand "Tess of D'Ubervilles' or Austen or Bronte, but I loved 'Robinson Cruesoe' and '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' when I was a kid. Nor do I expect some gals to like my favorite classics either.
"Only an academic would judge someone's intelligence by the ratio of books to other forms of entertainment they own."
Who said anything about judging anyone's intelligence? I simply suggested noting, in other peoples' houses, whether video forms of entertainment outnumber books. I find it quite interesting. Don't you?
I am a retired engineer who hasn't taken, or taught, a class since 1975. I'm hardly an academic, but I do read a lot.
Sarah, Books and the picture you make in your head on reciting the words or hearing them on tape is the natural outgrowth of storytelling around the campfire, something that has entertained and educated people for tens of thousands of years.
Dfwmtx, someone said once that no one who ever studied literature in school has voluntarily read a classic of literature. Don't feel bad.
As to Fahrenheit 451, I first read Fahrenheit 451 sometime between 11 and 14, I don't recall exactly.
I find it ironic that people want to ban that book, because as Bradbury himself put it, it is a love story to books. There is no other love interest.
What is especially ironic is that in Fahrenheit 451, Montag has a discussion with his boss who tells him that they didn't start out by banning books, but that people stopped reading. The librarian trying to give away that particular book that warned against not reading makes it especially ironic..
area eccentric reads entire book
I once read something like, "Travel is like reading, those who don't are always on the same page." My own corrolary is, "Reading is like travel, those who don't are always in the same room."
No books, no video games, no dvds, no vhs on display, their all in boxes stored here and there throughout the house, or in closed cabinets. Books would win hands down, but I have dozens of dvds and a like number of games, oh, and a few books on tape or cd. So, in my home, upon entering, you'd see only the tv and computer. Beware of drawing conclusions based on a lack of facts.
Fiction I tend to like to read. Science, history, and other non-fiction, I prefer to listen to. Don't know why, but there it is.
Dad read like a man possessed, but only, and I mean only, technical books and articles. I never once saw him reading any fiction. Mom, didn't read much, she preferred needlepoint and other hands on crafts. Me, I'll read anything but, I find I go in spurts, history for a while, then science, then fiction, then biography, then sci-fi, with the spurts lasting from weeks to months. Usually a spurt ends with a bad book and I find myself in need of a break.
My wife has a t-shirt that shows a quote from Mark Twain: "Those who don't read have no advantage over those who can't."
DJ, I LIKE that quote!
I do, too, hence the t-shirt. I'm surprised that you haven't heard it before.
Where did you get that shirt?
Beats me, Ed. It's easily 25 years old.
"Something else you and I are in complete agreement on, DJ. I don't allow video games in my house. They are a colossal waste of time and the culture it has spawned is terribly nauseating to me." - Markadelphia
Am I the only one who reads this and has an almost knee-jerk reaction, after reading Mark's other posts, to absolutely force any future offspring of mine to play as many games and watch as much television as possible?
It makes me want to fire up Call of Duty again.
My initial reaction, knowing many of the teens I have, was to think, "My brain... all 'splodey!" "Hey, if you don't like your brain being all 'splodey, why the hell do you smoke dope?"
Oh and just for the record.... I haven't owned a TV since 1994, and the only part of not owning one I have missed is not being able to see the Sherlock Holmes series on A&E.
It makes me want to fire up Call of Duty again.
It makes me suddenly think that working through that stack of X-Box games that I haven't been playing while I've been reading might be a good way to spend the rest of my weekend.