By Jamie Cue
In a time when it is a rarity to see someone without a cell phone glued to their fingertips and headsets cemented into their ears, it is even more rare to see an adolescent with a book in their hands. Most adolescents may not even be able to tell you the last book they read, other than maybe the stack of textbooks laying by their bedside. However, unlike cell phones, video games and mp3 players, books offer things that these technologies can’t: from expanding the imagination to helping kids become socialized into the world around them.
Most people are introduced to reading in kindergarten, shortly after accomplishing the alphabet. It is often the first time some kids get invited into a mystical world of dragons, unicorns and heroes of all sorts, expanding their imagination to new lengths. They find themselves going on magical adventures, and all the while learning important lessons such as being kind to others and accepting others that are different from them. This is a form of socialization in that it teaches them lessons they haven’t been taught yet, or reinforce lessons. As we get older, the life lessons books offer develop as we find books we can relate to more deeply, from which, we learn life lessons such as: to always play our strengths.
Reading is also a great form of entertainment, one in which you also learn greatly from, depending on what type of literature or book you are reading. From books that teach you about the planet to ones about history or cultures, there is a topic out there for everyone.
Unfortunately, Reading has come across its challenges as the information age has made every form of information more available to the masses. People find themselves spending their free time doing mindless activities, such as watching TV or “facebooking”. However, Authors have also taken advantage of the Internet creating a new form of literature called electronic literature. It uses the advantages of technology, creating a form of literature that can be visual, audio, kinetic and interactive, unlike anything we have seen before.
People may argue that reading is an isolating process in a world where almost everything involves some form of social interaction, however it is no less social than watching TV alone or having your music blaring into your ears all day.
Why read? It seems simple enough to answer. There is nothing like taking the time to grasp a book in your hand and entering a different reality. A reality you have no control over but learn from at an early age as C.K. Chesterton notes, “[f]airy tales don’t tell children that dragons exist[,] [t]they knew this[,] [t]hey tell them that they can be defeated.” You cannot get the experience of reading a book from anywhere else, nor can anything else carry your imagination or teach you life lessons in a way in which the book can. They entertain us, as they help us define who we want to be.