“I Don’t Read,” He Said.

Mary Poppins knows how important reading is.

Mary Poppins knows how important reading is.

 

I recently chatted with a young man (15 years old) about his school activities, summer activities, and hobbies.  “What are you reading right now?” I asked. This is the central question of my life. Everything else in the universe revolves around what book happens to be in your hand at that moment.

“I don’t read,” he said.  Three words, simply stated, with no inflection of shame, no energy of rebellion, no defensive attitude.  I was horrified, and the fact that he said it so calmly, as if it were a given, made it even more terrifying.

“You don’t read?!” I repeated.  “You NEVER read?!?  You don’t read anything?”

He shrugged. “I read my textbooks in school.”

Now this is an incredibly intelligent, creative, and special individual.  I have known this teenager for years.  I know that he makes good grades.  I know he wants to be an engineer, he loves creating and building things, he’s imaginative and thoughtful, and he has a kind and caring heart.  How is it possible that a kid that amazing doesn’t read?

And I began to imagine… if he’s this amazing of a young man now…. what could he be if he were a reader?   The mind boggles to think of it. Everything he has the potential to be is being lessened and squashed by his unwillingness to read.

I won’t go into all the scientific and educational reasons why reading is so good for our brains, our cognitive functions, our emotional health and relationships,  and our attitudes and perceptions of the world.    So with all the benefits, and the fact that you are also being entertained while you read, why would anyone be unwilling to read?  I was especially dismayed to see how dismissive he was about books.   Maybe it’s his school, his friends, his age, his whole generation, or his parents who didn’t make books available to him at a young age.   I don’t know. Maybe it’s none of those things or all of them.

But I have another theory…Maybe he just hasn’t found HIS book yet.

”There is no such thing as a person who hates to read–there are only people who have not yet found the right book.”

If you also don’t usually read, have you found your perfect book, or are you still looking?  If you are a regular reader, was there a book that drew you into reading more?  I can’t remember a specific book that inspired me to read more. I’ve always been a reader. I have found so many “right” books for me, and I’m always looking for more.  I can only hope that my young friend will not give up on reading just yet.  What books do you think I should recommend to him?

 

 

Happy REading! Please leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

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