The Importance of Books in the Home

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The impetus for this rant came from a post on the National Security Agency’s Voluntary Personal Information Gathering Website (also known as Facebook). Fellow author
Christopher Nadeau posted:

“I'm not a parent but I think it's important when buying your child books to read that they also see you buying one for yourself rather than standing around with that dopey "Yup. Kid shore likes them books I guess" facial expression.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve mentioned this in previous rants, but I was very fortunate to have been raised in a household where reading (and learning in general) was considered extremely important. This was not always the case for the area in which I was raised. There existed a distinct anti-education sentiment among some of my age cohorts. This was not the case among my own friends, however. I did well enough in primary school to qualify for a college preparatory high school
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I doubt that any of this would have been possible if my parents had been different people.

In short, my parents were readers.

I learned to read at an early age. I was delighted by the ability to enter new worlds via the simple act of picking up a book. I was proud of the fact that I was taken out of class during early schooling and allowed to roam the school library for new reading material. There were distinct benefits to being ahead of the class when it came to reading skills.
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There are pictures of the whole family sitting on the couch, each with our own books. My sister and I were read to by our parents, not only as babies, but all the way through childhood. There eventually came a point where we became the readers, rather than the audience. Regardless, this reading time was something which was
shared.

There is a certain solitude which can come from entering the world of an author’s imagination. The first time I went to Narnia, it was in my parents’ bedroom with the rest of my family. There is also a wonderful connectedness which comes from sharing these worlds with others. Watching television and movies together may lead to a feeling of cohesiveness, but this pales next to how a group feels when they read together. Rather than sitting together silently, collective reading leads naturally to discussions of the material being read.

Returning back to the initial quote, it is not enough to only read with your children. It is equally important to have children see their parents reading. There are numerous studies which discuss the importance of having
literature in the home, and having children continue to read during summer vacation. While it is obviously important that children have access to books in order to become lifelong readers, I think it is just as important that the children learn that reading is not something which is assigned, but something enjoyable. Rather than see picking up a book as a chore which they have to do because their teacher/parent/whomever told them that they have to, it should be seen as an opportunity to experience something wonderful. A trip to the library should be something that children look forward to.

Another way to make sure that children enjoy reading is to make sure that they are enjoying what they are reading. Children should understand that they don’t have to like every book that they pick up. It took me until a few years ago to understand that I don’t have to finish reading every book I pick up. By discussing the books that children are reading, parents gain insight into another aspect of their children’s lives. Books can be the gateway to discussions of serious, real world things as well.

Hell, I’m for anything which actually gets people talking. Perhaps society can relearn how to engage in civil discourse again.

People who read are less likely to become rigid thinkers, mired in their own opinions. The act of entering a world created by someone else, of spending time seeing through a fictional character’s eyes teaches one how to carry multiple viewpoints in one’s head.

Of course, I fully believe that children who read become adults who read. Adults who read then have children who see them read, become children who read, and so on. It’s a vicious circle, and one which I think we would do well to perpetuate.

Hell, those children who read might eventually do what I did and become adults who create books for others to read.
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Wouldn’t that be something?

Now, if you will excuse me, there is a new Stephen King book calling to me.


1 Wow, the Mrs is going to be really annoyed by this post. She thinks we have too many books in our house. As if there was such a thing.
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2 Sorry, the program I use to make the website won’t let me put footnote in the title. The footnotes are starting from the title? Wow. This could end up being a long one.

3 Yay Renaissance!

4 Math? Not so much.

5 Wouldn’t that be cool?

6 Yes, we can be cynical and say that this is just a self-serving rant encouraging people to be readers so I create a market for my own material. Not the case this time.