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One of the things I cherish most about my life is my love of reading. More than any other influence, it has made me what I am today. It is the thing most responsible for my independence and individualism. Without a love of reading - not just an ability, but a love - it would be hard for anyone to be truly educated, to make truly informed decision about their lives.

What you get from reading is about what you put into reading. Reading, when its done passionately and enthusiastically, is not passive. The reader takes in the words, the concepts presented, and makes them his own, wraps them into his own ideas. This melding of two minds produces concepts and ideas that didn't exist before, not in the reader, and not in the book.

There's no better education and no better entertainment than that which is produced in your own mind, by you, for your own purposes.

That's why I'm heartened by the phenomenon of Harry Potter. In one day of sales, it has grossed almost double that of the two top movies' entire weekend. It has earned over $100 million in it's first day.

I didn't start out reading philosphy, history, or sophisticated and meaningful novels. I started out reading the likes of Dr. Seuss and Curious George. As I got better at it, I moved on to things such as Encyclopedia Brown, then Jules Verne and Sherlock Holmes. I almost got kicked out of class in 5th grade for reading The Exorcist instead of listening to whatever tripe my government school teacher was prattling on about.

None of this is highbrow material, but it got me to where I am now. It challenged me at the level I then needed to be challenged. It engaged me and kept me turning the pages and seeking out more when the pages ran out.

I have no opinion of the quality of the Harry Potter series. I've heard its good - not just "entertaining", but good in a deeper sense - but I don't know that first hand.

It doesn't matter.

It's getting kids to flock to the bookstore and fall in love with reading. It's doing it at an age - pre-teen, they say - that might be the last chance for some of these kids to develop a love of reading, if the damn schools haven't drilled it out of them already.

For that, I'm glad, whatever the content of the books actually are. If they're tripe, or worse, then so be it, but these kids, some of them at least, will forever be part of the world of reading. They will learn what challenges them, what they need from books, and will seek it out. They will spend the rest of their lives learning on their own terms, for their own purposes.

"When a book beats out movies, we're in great shape,"

You got that right.


I agree. Reading rules. Feed your brain. And it's always good to see kids read and not just play on the Playstation ...

Posted by Daldianus at Monday, July 18, 2005 09:45 AM

Although I often skim through the books I read, I agree that reading is FUNdamental. It's one of the most important activities I engage in. And, yep, I was one of those who picked up my reserved Harry Potter copies the day it was released. Although on the surface Rowlings' books are full of magic and mysticism, they are classic good & evil tales with well-developed characters who, in the magic society, are responsible for themselves. In addition to guiding kids in the love of reading, the HP books illustrate a great sense of life. (And, if you're a kid well beyond your teens - or 20s, 40s, 50s - the HP books will continue to enrich your literary needs.)

Posted by Sal at Monday, July 18, 2005 12:28 PM

The Harry Potter books are excellantly written. I'm reading my older girl the first one now. A chapter or two before bed. She likes the book and she likes to have me read to her, but she can read pretty well on her own. She follows along as I read and sees how I pronounce the words.

I'd say reading instruction in the schools has improved dramatically. They're using phonics a lot more than they were for a while. Although we have many teaching toys and books here and we've worked with her quite a bit.

And she wouldn't do her spelling homework if we didn't push her. BC's elementary school pushed that pretty hard last year.

Posted by Old Whig at Monday, July 18, 2005 07:52 PM

Harry Potter is AWESOME! Did anyone read the new book? Harry is a man, never again a boy, after this novel.

Posted by Steph at Tuesday, July 19, 2005 04:24 PM

Just finished "Half-Blood Prince". WOW! Can't wait for part 2 of it - version 7. Heck, even a curmudgeon like Kyle would find much to enjoy/respect in HP books!

Posted by Sal at Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:10 AM

Read a Book. Turn off the TV.

Great advice for everyone who wishes to keep their minds alive!

Posted by ken grandlund at Tuesday, July 26, 2005 11:20 AM

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