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Posts Tagged ‘Lynn Johnston’

Recently I was visiting a friend at her house. Her seven-year-old granddaughter read a graphic novel about a lost kitten to me. I marveled at how well she read and praised her lavishly. Later, she stopped reading and marked her place with a bracelet. Grammy discovered she’d misplaced her bookmarks. They found one but I made it a point to give her three more bookmarks the next time I saw her.

Now, I like comics too, particularly the Sunday ‘funnies’. About the same time I came across the weekly strip for “For Better or For Worse’ by Lynn Johnston (www.fborfw.com) Reading it was almost a flashback to my friend’s granddaughter. While I dislike seeing books damaged or dog-eared, I especially liked how ‘dad’ gave a new perspective of it. The child was reading. Isn’t that the important thing to remember?

fborfw For SMP blog 1-15-18

Both events got me to thinking how, as adult readers and writers we have an obligation or duty to help the younger generation to become readers. Hopefully they learn to treasure books and take care of them in the process, but it’s even more important they develop an interest in reading. If you look close at the last frame of the comic strip, you will notice movies on each of the bookshelves behind the parents. A television set, with a VCR player on top is on one end of the frame and a computer is at the other. I have nothing against any of those things, however, nowhere in the cartoon does one see a book save for the dog-eared one ‘mom’ is holding. To me, that says a lot in itself.

I know so many adults who know how to read and write, they just don’t like to. They say nothing interests them; not fiction, not much non-fiction, maybe the newspaper if anything at all. To me that is sad, because I know there is so much out there ready to be explored, discovered, and enjoyed. I know one man, in his thirties, who told me in all seriousness he has read one book in his life. One! To me, that is tragic. He is smart, capable of reading almost anything, he simply has no interest in opening a book. He is a father and I can’t help but wonder if he fosters an interest in books for his young children. It would be difficult to encourage children to do what they never see him doing.

While I was growing up, books were my escape. I loved the places they took me, the friends they became, and many childhood gems still grace my adult bookshelves. However, I was in the minority. I never saw my mother with any reading material beyond a magazine. My brother would rather cut off an appendage than be forced to read. I did see my father with paperback westerns. Incidentally, I still have a keen interest in western movies and books to this day.

Compared to the rest of my family, I was book obsessed. I had to have loads of books to read. The older I got, the more genres I wanted to explore. To be blunt—I loved books. I liked the feel of them. I liked challenging myself with tougher subject matter and longer lengths. Discovering a series made my heart flutter. While my family did not demonstrate or especially encourage a love of reading, they also did not discourage it. They bought me books for birthdays and holidays. They (sort of) tolerated my long visits to the bookstore where I spent my baby-sitting cash on books. I still remember walking out of the bookstore (ours was called WaldenBooks) with heavy stacks and shopping bags of books. I felt so grown up! On the long drive back home I would already be immersed in them, picking out the next great adventure.

As parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, there are so many things we seem to get wrong while dealing with the children and youth in our lives. The one thing we can do right, and pays a high dividend on the future, is to encourage, foster, and model an enjoyment and respect for books.  When the youngster wants to read a story, remember it is a blessing to sit and be read to. If they want us to read them a story, that is equally as special. The impressions, lessons, and memories created in those moments will last them a lifetime.

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