Monday, January 12, 2015

A Happy, happy meal.

Guess what was in my Happy Meal yesterday?
If you guessed a tiny copy of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you would be correct.
Books in Happy Meals: it is a thrilling thought. Now a whole new set of folks will have a shorthand phrase, “…if you give a mouse a cookie…” to describe a series of events drawn into play by one simple action.
As I was appreciating all of the young (and not-so-young) readers and the pairs of child-adult readers, I plunged into a chasm of doubt: what if reading doesn’t matter? (I blame the french fries here)
What if print reading, or reading in any format doesn’t make you a better person, or a person more equipped to make their own choices? An unthinkable thought for a librarian….yet….

One of our seniors responded to my query, “What if we don’t need to read at all?”

BL: There are things that books can do that movies and other visual media cannot, like empathy. Also, I think it is important for our brains to be activated by words.

Posing the same question to one of our juniors, I got this reply:

JP: Reading relaxes me, I take 10-20 minutes each evening to read – more if I have time – but I make sure that I read every day. For me, it is all about the stories. I find stories often give you hope and faith, like the book I just read, I’ll Give You the Sun. I like stories because they help you figure out how to live your life. I read every night before I go to bed because it's a nice way to separate yourself from all of the stuff going on in your own life, and get lost in someone else's story for a little while.

This web article supports JP and BL’s thoughts nicely, and points to some recent research:

Back to the essential question of reading; Tim Parks, in his blog post for the New York Review of Books, writes,  "there are many ways to live a full, responsible, and even wise life that do not pass through reading literary fiction.” Perhaps, as a librarian, I am biased toward the benefits of reading, yet I am not finished thinking about the value of reading. Guess that is as it should be.

-Mrs. Eldridge

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