There’s nothing like a good book, right? I agree, and I’m dismayed every time I read about the demise of books and the de-emphasizing of reading. Reading is the forerunner to accumulated knowledge and our livelihood depend on it! I allude to the countless stories abounding online and in social circles relative to how the internet makes books obsolete. I’ve turned this over in my mind more often than not and always come up with the same conclusion - that reading, in all of its virtues real or imagined are still important to me! My first encounter with books began with a question mark and continues today emphatically as an exclamation point! I cannot remember the first book I read, nor can I recall how many, but I do profess to have an on-going love affair for the written word. As such, when I was quite young I was in awe of the local librarian of the elementary school I attended. Of course, she was the first who impressed upon me the many virtues of reading for pleasure, and later reading for knowledge. Mrs. Kimbro, the respected and revered head librarian at Miami’s Douglass Elementary in the Overtown section of the city was indeed special. She lit fires that are still burning within my literary soul, the embers simmering and smoldering ready to be illuminated at a moment’s notice. She instilled in me throughout my lifetime that books are commodities that will place you at the forefront of any presentation through imagery and intuitiveness.
How important is reading to you? The purpose of this essay is to bring to the front the basic realization that reading is fundamental and how it has revolutionalized my intelligence quotient. At this point in my life, I know that the basic fabrics that weave my soul and invigorate my mind are riveted in place by the plethora of books I’ve accumulated over the years. My personal library is bulging at the seams, where purging is a time I come to loathe. Somewhere down the line I have to depart with a title that the inner soul would admonishes me to keep. We as individuals in the information age rely on technology to stem the tide to thwart ignorance at every turn. Thus, we are stimulated by many things, and influenced by circumstances relative to experience(s) central to certain nuances thrust upon us by insensitive intellectuals - like ridding the public of books and eschewing the benefits of reading. These among other maladies in our academic surroundings are being circulated in academia; and today we STILL wonder why Johnny can’t or won’t read. Too many young people are missing out on the pleasures and opportunities that come with reading. Back in the day at Mrs. Kimbro’s domain, I was a rambunctious kid thirsting for knowledge and she constantly challenged me to understand what I read long after I left her school. Yes, she was an integral part of that village that raised me, and kept me focused on all things literary.
I’ve asked myself what are the signs that I missed that have given people the audacity to suggest that reading has become passé? Moreover, is it that pronounced where technology has systematically redirected mindsets to forego status quo for a perceived new way of assessing knowledge at the expense of reading? Although I won’t attest to the aforementioned, but I WILL adamantly surmise that for some it comes down to a lack of interest, and for others a lack of ability. Lack of ability is the fulcrum that is turning the wheels of illiteracy and is my greatest concerns. I feel that it reverts to the genesis of the problem: parental dysfunction in familial settings and communal disinterest where schools are placing emphasis on assessment testing vs. nurturing children in the fundamental aspects of why books are still the elements of learning. I would like to see families take an inherent interest in making sure that their children are reading, visiting libraries, and developing written and oral communicative skill; I worry about schools not providing the best curricula of inclusion for disadvantaged children not affording the opportunity to move forward; and lastly, what exposure are youngsters getting to books in general, and the ability to excel specifically?
If reading is important to you as it is to me, then wouldn’t it behoove you to allow initiatives to share in its relevancy so other can be enlightened? I’m an advocate of family literacy and know of no other way to champion the cause. We as concerned citizens and parents should be yelling loud and long for justice to be served. The myth and misplaced forum for the ‘No Child Left Behind’ debacle is enough to hone our minds for a greater challenge. Reading is still important to me; it’s fundamental, necessary and needed, so let’s endeavor to do our best to take some child in your midst and nurture him with a story; read for yourself for both knowledge and pleasure. READ – your life depends on it!