Sunday, October 27, 2013

There are strange things done.... the name of literacy. I just shared on FB an article by Neil Gaiman which was published in The Guardian. It's an essay on the importance of libraries and reading, especially Fiction. I think I may have to rethink my attitude to Fiction. Somehow over the years, I have preferred true stories to Fiction and rarely read Science Fiction or Fantasy. Gaiman makes an amazing argument for both.

One fact in the article that shocked me was that the US plans for its growth in penal institutions, years ahead. They do it, says Gaiman, based on a simple algorithm. They look at how many 10 and 11 year olds who, currently, can't read and decide how many prisons to build in 10 or 15 years time. This is very sad.

Another nugget that surprised me in the article was that for years China frowned on the reading of Science Fiction, until they realized that their countrymen, although very good at manufacturing, were always copying what other countries brought to them. They rarely invented their own products. A Chinese contingent went to the US and interviewed a number of innovators there. They discovered that most of the top inventors had read Science Fiction, when they were younger. Gaiman was invited to speak at China's first Science Fiction Fair.

The theme of the article was that free and easy access to books is essential in any society. Libraries should never be closed, because they offer an open, unbiased physical location to read Fiction, access non-Fiction and generally commune with people who love and respect books and the creativity they provide.

Poetry that transports!!

The article goes on to say that reading in the home is tantamount. Adults should read to children. Children should have a place to read by themselves and they should be able to read what they like, not have their choices coloured by parental biases.

We read daily to our eldest when he was young. I actually taught him to read from the Ladybird reading series, before he went to school. I wouldn't say that he is an avid reader, now; but he does read and he does respect books.

Our two youngest are a year apart. My husband read Harry Potter to our daughter and because her brother had trouble settling down, I read him poetry. Our daughter, has some learning disabilities, but she always got A's in English. My youngest found the books he needed to read, as audio versions on-line. I'm not sure that he reads much poetry these days, but he can speak to anyone and often has one-on-one lunch dates with our friends who are in their 50s compared with his 20 odd years. Even if he doesn't read much poetry, he is well-versed and a man for all ages :)

The world needs books, libraries and free access to everything in print!!

The picture - a Canadian legend written by a Brit, Robert Service, about a land that is poetry on ice - gotta love it!!

Have a very cool day.

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