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The Value of Words

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Earlier this week I was wondering what makes a reader. Is it a learned behavior? Are some people more inclined to enjoy the written word, as opposed to watching a movie or playing a video game or participating in sporting events? I know that my mother read to us constantly when we were young, but my older brother is not a reader, and he finds the entire process of reading a book to be an unpleasant chore. He would rather be doing something, anything, other than flipping through the pages of a book.

I remember spending summer days at my maternal grandmother’s house. She read, too. All the time! She read everything, including The NY Times, and she had a subscription to The Reader’s Digest Condensed Editions. She had bookshelf after bookshelf in her basement, crammed full of books. Tons and tons of books! Leave Her to Heaven, Ben-Hur, Jubilee Trail, The Crystal Cave, and countless gothics. Older books, books from a different generation, but timeless and alluring. What a magical place to spend the afternoon!

ArchieThere was one other magic thing in the basement, and that was a box of my uncle’s old comic books. Most of them were Archie comics, and I loved them so much! We didn’t have comic books at my house, and I am not sure why. My dad thought they were a waste of time, but my mom was always of the opinion that reading was reading. It didn’t matter what we were reading, as long as we were reading something. I read and re-read those comics, and amazingly, so did my brother.

Now I wonder, if he had been provided with a stream of comic books, would he have been a reader, too? Does it matter what you read, as long as you read something? I believe that there is worth and value to all words, regardless of format. Isn’t it better to have a developing reader consume comics than to read nothing at all? What do you think? I know a lot of parents resist, and I ‘m not sure why. There are age appropriate titles on the market, and some kids just don’t have the patience or are intimidated by stories written in a longer format. Isn’t it better to reel them in with comics, to help build confidence, and make them readers for life?

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  • Susan Stephenson

    I hear you! I agree that it’s definitely better to have a developing reader who enjoys reading, whether it’s comics, sport pages, picture books or Mad magazine. Surely we like to choose our own reading material as adults, and encouraging kids to browse and choose what they enjoy reading lets them own their reading too.