Good For You | Newberry

Good For You

Many years ago, a relative who liked to send me peculiar books sent me a volume of short stories which was called something like “Stories for readers (and Not for Picture-Lookers”. It was by an author who felt too many children’s books relied on pictures for entertainment, which kept children from learning to read. (I remember one story from this book; it may be a coincidence that this was the only story in the book with an illustration.)
One of my volunteers had her own theory about why children weren’t learning to read. Well, it was ONE of her theories. She was at least realistic enough to know that children differ and that each non-reader may have a personal story. The theory she expounded to me once was that writers of children’s books were entirely too interested in fun. “Children should learn to read because it’s necessary,” she said, “Not because they can enjoy it.”
I get the same sort of vibe from a reviewer who has stated that Dr. Seuss is not a good writer for children to read. He does not, we are told, teach anything useful: “he’s just having fun with words.”
This may be all very well for some people, but what about those of us who did NOT learn to read from State Highway Regulations Handbooks?
I think it’s all part of our obsession with self-improvement. Whatever we do must make us healthier, richer, or wiser or there’s no real reason for doing it. Some of these people DO advocate reading for pleasure. It’s stress-reducing, they say, so to be perfectly healthy, you are required to do at least four hors of recreational reading every week. They don’t notice that “required to” and “recreational” are mutually exclusive. It’s like the nursing home a relative of mine lived in, where they had an “impromptu snack” every day at exactly 3:15 P.M.
But I will never see Uncle Blogsy on the Bestseller List if I don’t get with the program, so I have prepared my set of rules for Intelligent And Productive Recreational Reading (IAPRR, trademark soon to be applied for.)
1.Read something you like.
That’s about it, thanks. It can be something you need to read for your job, or not. It can be as light as Barbie Meets Ken in Madison County, or something more along the lines of Paleography: Benedictine Manuscripts of the Thirteenth Century. As long as you are having a good time reading the thing, it provides you with the basic dietary requirements for nutritional reading. It lifts the spirits, massages the mind, and encourages you to read another book some time.
You will, in the case of either title above and practically any book you pick up, have to face the people who wrinkle their noses and demand “Why are you reading THAT?” They will wish to tell you that it is not good for you, that it is a. too light, b. too heavy, or c. a ridiculous strategy for avoiding reality in the pages of a book. It is up to you how you wish to reply, though it is best to look around and see what the local rules are about concealed weapons. (In case you are tempted to whack them with your Kindle, you see.) And, anyway, this is how some of the best reading groups originate: through lively discussion of a book’s true value.
As for the pictures, you can always tell them it’s a graphic novel. While they’re puzzling through that, make your escape.

Add new comment