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Reading is Fun
Once upon a time, children played outdoors in the sunshine with delightful games that always brought laughter in the air. When it was rainy, a child would settle down on a cozy couch, pick up a book, and read for hours on end. A book, of all things, could entertain a kid. Then, along came the television. Goodbye, reading. After that came the computer, MySpace, cell phones, texting, and iPods galore The books were left on the dusty bookshelf, rotting as moths and mice slowly eat away the pages that were once long before adored over by some child.
Alas, nowadays children seem to be more interested in gossip, technology, and other distractions. They rarely appreciate the magic deep within the heart of a marvelous novel. Some students shun English classes for reading novels for credit. It is well known among apathetic students that when a teacher assigns a novel to be read, read the first half (or less), and receive information from another student about what happens in the end. Or just not do anything at all, and fail the class, which of course is the most reasonable way.
If any of those students gave at least one of the year’s books a chance, maybe, just maybe, they might realize that reading a novel isn’t such a torture after all. For some reason, students tend to judge every book they lay their hands upon by its cover. If it’s too thick, which usually means 200 pages or more, automatically some students grudgingly read it, and never once enjoy the story. Of course, no one would enjoy a novel if they convince themselves it isn’t good reading. Almost every day, I bring a book to school, and often read it during class if there is any free. It happens every time: a student would ask me what I am reading and comment on how smart I was to read such a “hard book.”
If those students thought outside their teenage box for a moment, they would realize that perhaps the book I happened to be reading at the time was not as difficult as they predicted it to be. And, believe it not, my fellow schoolmates, sometimes a “big and hard” book does not usually require brilliant brains, although it does call for vivid imaginations and willing open-mindedness.
Students ask me all the time: “why do read so much?” and the answer is always the same: “because I enjoy it.” This response usually stumps students, it’s possible they ponder on how anyone in their right mind could actually enjoy anything that is not in the usual category for teen readers: text messages, fashion magazines, and all the other teenage likeness. That’s right, my style of reading stretches out the borderlines of fictional novels. Almost every book I have read inspires me in every aspect of life, whether through the power of love, the strength of a family, the tragedies of the past, or the imagination of another world. It’s incredible that students do not enjoy books written by Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Jane Austen, or Louisa May Alcott, all beautiful classics.
“Classic,” the word students usually translate as “boring.” Naturally, those books are difficult reading, but they are also more intelligent, deep, and philosophical. Look, Dickens may be exceedingly dull at times, but that’s no way to judge all of the other novels that were written in the past.
What is it that draw kids away from the haunting pull of a good story hidden deep inside the pages of a novel? The answer is simple, and yet complicated in its own way: modern technology. Let’s begin with television. The golden age of television was said to be in the 50's. Black and white back then, folks enjoyed watching classic T.V. shows, laughing merrily once a week. Even on into the sixties and seventies, when color finally appeared, channels were few and there was no luxury at having a remote. As television “improved,” it exposed more and more inappropriate topics, which was a whole lot juicier than the boring stories in those old books sitting on Gramma’s shelf. Soon, television provided hundreds of channels, dissolving children’s imaginations little by little as they stare with glazed eyes at their television screen.
In 2005, there was a survey that 94% of teens aged 12 to 19 watch televison on a average of 10.14 hours in a week. It had been reported that at that time, watching television spent more teenage time than any of their other usual activities. Imagine the results now.
Now, let’s move on to computers. This now seems to be the only source teenagers use to research a topic or gossip with friends. Or even total strangers. Then, MySpace is invented, a website meant for teenagers to make complete fools of themselves, and letting the rest of the MySpace world see with their dull, glazed-over eyes. Cell phones, along with its addicting text messaging, came along, stripping any new curious eyes away from the old, forgotten books.
And so, by 2008, more and more teenagers lose interest in books, that before long, readers will be only among the wise men of the world. Reading gives so may opportunities for the future, both in education and life. Books open a person’s mind to another person’s perspective on life. They are the only doorways that open to a child to whole new worlds, everything that is needed in a childhood. Reading develops the imagination, who says a person doesn’t need
a bit of pretending later on in the real world? Besides, there are books of inspiration and the truth of reality. It may be brutal, but it is better to face something terrible in the eyes of another person before enduring it yourself someday. Life is about discovering your own philosophy of life itself. How can anyone do that if they don’t read enough to even understand the world outside the box?
Our “once upon a time” story still has no ending. Maybe the next generations will add on happier chapters, till we come to that same old classic ending: And they all lived happily ever after, reading books for the rest of their lives. The end.