I came across an article in the LA Times about James Patterson's Save Our Books campaign. The article was well written and I did sign the petition to try to get our President to show an interest in books on a regular basis from now until the end of his term in office. While I think it is a wonderful idea to attempt to get someone as elite as the President to get involved in this, to try to get scholarships out there, to get money donated to independent book stores what I am left thinking is what about our kids?
I look at my three children. I have a fourteen year old, a twelve year old, and a five year old. I can tell you that NONE of them care what it is that the President is doing. Someday they will care but right now the people they are influenced by (people who are not family) are the actors, actresses, and singers that they like. And yes, even the authors that they enjoy reading.
While the President can do a lot, I do not think that he alone will get children interested in reading. Our children are left off reading the latest hits and forgetting about the classics OR they are left behind, struggling to be able to read at all. I know from seeing my own child struggle with reading that once you can stimulate a desire, a longing to read that the child will do what they can to be able to read. Once behind on his reading, he started with following along to audio books but now he is nearly caught up with his grade level. Having had some wonderful people to help him to be able to read with his dyslexia and encouraging him to read. Assuring him that it is alright if he does not read nearly as fast as anyone else. I hear him tell me often now that he is going to go read, without being told to do so. I had to find a way to get him interested. For him it was history, that was the way to get him wanting to read.
My eldest loves classics. She was reading Dickens, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Lewis, Tolkien, and even Shakespeare while her schoolmates were reading The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter. I am not saying there is anything wrong with ANY of those books. She simply enjoyed the classics. A teacher approached me about my daughter's reading habits. She was thrilled that she reads so much but she was not happy that she had not read any of the newer books. My child had not read The Hunger Games or any of the above mentioned books. The teacher was bothered by this. Wanting my daughter to have a more well rounded world of books I told her that she needed to alternate. She could read a classic but would need to read a newer book after that. This worked for her.
That incident with the teacher left me wondering if the parents of the other students were approached. Were they asked to have their children pick up a tried and true classic? Were they asked to read about Oliver Twist? Did she encourage them to expand their reading? I know that the classics were not read in the class for any of the assignments. Not even The Diary of Anne Frank was read.
With all of this being said it is time that we do something. Time that we take a stand and show the youth that reading will not only help them to escape into a wonderful new world, whisk them away to a place where they can hide from dinosaurs, fight alongside King Arthur, travel with Gandalf to have wonderful adventures BUT that it will help them with their future. Reading will lead to the career that they want. They have to read to study, to learn what they will need to know to succeed in life.
IS the President going to be the one to encourage these children, the youth of today? Look at their clothes, look in their rooms, listen to what they talk about. The way to reach them would seem to be through the people they love to watch. The actors and actresses who play their favorite heroes or villains, the singers who serenade them while they are hanging out with their friends. If they see their favorite celebrity with a book, talking about a book then that is going to encourage them to read more. It may even encourage them to pick up a specific book.
Basically, it is time to pull out the whole Got Milk thing and change it to books. I remember magazines when I was younger having advertisements with celebrities with a milk mustache. Got Milk? If that could work then for milk why can it not work now for books?
Let's see if we can get celebrities to take pictures of themselves reading a book, or holding their favorite book and posting that to their social media sites. Let their young fans see that they are reading.
It is time. Time to Save Our Books. Time to Save Our Children.