Monday, August 26, 2019

Reading makes you smart(er)

Do or do not, there is no try
So, today as I was going about my business, my brother sent me a funny list of newspapers and persons who reads them, to wit:  
  • The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
  • The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
  • The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
  • USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times.
  • The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could find the time and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
  • The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country.
  • The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
  • The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
  • The Chicago Tribune is read by people that are in prison that used to run the state, & would like to do so again, as would their constituents that are currently free on bail.
  • The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country, but need the baseball scores.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are gay, handicapped, minority, feminist, atheists, and those who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.
  • The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
  • The Seattle Times is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something to wrap it in.

I'd say pretty good estimations, all.  Of course, the reason this all got stuck up in my brain is because of the conversation I had with a person I met in a local eatery.  Seems person was in their junior year of undergrad and was bemoaning the fact that they had to write a three (3) page paper on Fahrenheit 451 (written by Ray Bradbury, a book about book burning)

Person was freaking out wondering how they could get out of having to actually read the book because, "books are dumb!"  Says they, "isn't there a shorter version or maybe a comic book about this?!"  

Yeah, I'm guessing no - but there was a movie that came out years back and I'm sitting there thinking are books really dumb or is it that people who refuse to read are looking forward to a career in which they have to say, "you want fries with that?"

Sad that there is a generation who think books are dumb.  Proud I am that I have daughters who love to read.  Absolutely love it, they do.  They like playing on mom's phone, too, but get a book with pictures in their hand and they are in pig heaven.

The fact is "studies" have consistently shown that a person can improve their verbal skills through reading, and even more by reading good writing.  In their article What Reading Does for the Mind, Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E Stanovich note that:

Most theorists are agreed that the bulk of vocabulary growth during a child’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure ... Furthermore, many researchers are convinced that reading volume ... is the prime contributor to individual differences in children’s vocabularies.
While I miss the pictures, I don't think I have ever missed the chance to read a good book.  I remember the vivid pictures that would course though my mind as I read such books as Pilgrim's Progress, The Hobbit, Going After Cacciato, Huon of the Horn, or even Fahrenheit 451.  

I have no doubt that my mind was altered and enhanced reading works of Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or Charles Dickens.

Sad, then, that I have occasion to sit next to generations of "kids" who are trying to get out of reading for the sake of reading just so they can move on to the next video game (or whatever it is that provides diversion these days).

Oh well, there's always another generation coming down the pike.  Let's hope they get it and realize there is more to life than just finding the next diversion.

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