August 22, 2008
"Scram, Kid. I'm Reading a Book."
I have always been a slow reader. I've written here before about the anguish of trying to read a book in elementary school for a book report. Winnie-the-Pooh was simply beyond my capability. I tried to fake a report based on having read only one chapter. But I turned into an avid reader. Why?
I was listening to a recent interview on the Mars Hill Audio Journal with Dana Gioia (JOY-ya), the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. Talking about their study released late last year on reading patterns in the United States, Gioia made several interesting comments.
Why do people read? Often because a parent or grandparent read to them. Another likely reason is that the parent or grandparent said, "Scram, kid. I'm reading a book!" In either case, books were part of the assumed culture of the household. In my case, my older brother and sister provided the culture of reading at home more than my parents.
Given who most of my readers are, likely I am preaching to the choir. Those of us in publishing are often in the business because we like books and like reading. Gioia reminds us, however, of the importance of consciously passing on our love to the next generation--not just for the good of the publishing industry but for their good and the good of society. Good readers make good citizens who contribute to the general welfare. Good readers also make good church members. And good readers make good employees.
But with only half the adults in the United States reading books, there are probably many even in publishing who do little or no reading. What I've said here before is worth repeating: "For personal development, reading is hard to beat. For professional publishing development, reading is essential."