Monday, October 27, 2008

The Root Got Me Thinking

One of the great blessings of my life is literacy. Like others I was lucky to grow up in a house where reading was a normal part of life.

My folks were hardcore censors when it came to watching TV or movies. One of the humiliating moments of my teenage years came when my Mom kept me from going to see a James Bond movie with my friends because she believed the character and the movie objectified women. In retrospect I can see that she was right, but was making me the object of ridicule among my friends the best way to teach that lesson? Despite the lock down on visual media, I was always allowed to read whatever I wanted to. So I could read Frank Yerby, who was called a "smut peddler" by my English teacher senior year of high school, but James Bond was a no-no.

So while I was reading a piece in the Root about illiteracy I was really struck by this particular passage:

There is a culture of reading that has to be taught—carrying books and magazines on the train and bus, keeping reading material handy at home and work, subconsciously compiling lists of texts to read for pleasure and for growth. So many of us spend every free moment we have reading something—even if it's just the cereal box—it's hard to imagine having to instruct people to do what comes naturally to us.

It always seemed natural and normal to me to spend time waiting with a book or a magazine, my sister read so much my Mom had to impose rule that no reading was allowed during meals. I wonder how difficult it is to develop that habit as an adult?

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