American Elephants

Books, Books, Books… by The Elephant's Child
October 12, 2022, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Politics

I certainly know that I’ve always known lots of young men who don’t read or dislike reading. Is if more young men than young women? Dunno. Yet the lack of success in teaching all kids to read well and to read a lot clearly persists.

I notice because I have always been a major reader, starved for more books. I have at least 1,000 books in the house, read them all at least once, and am somewhat reluctant to part with any. The nearest small town (very small, 9 miles away) when I was growing up, had no libraries, and even school libraries (if any) were small and inadequate. The drugstore had a small rack of westerns, which my dad called “Blood and Thunders”.

The spoken word is obviously more immediate, and inflections and emphasis effect the meaning, but the business of writing is to stay put on the page without the emphasis of tone or attitude to affect your thinking or understanding. Today, certainly, more of our news is reported in some fashion over the radio, television, online and may not reach many people in written form at all. Does that suggest that people do not read the news at all?

Back hundreds of years ago, when I was a child just starting school, I can remember numbers of little boys who fiercely resisted learning to read. They didn’t want to have anything to do with that difficult chore. Anybody else out there who remembers that kind of thing from first grade? Did that resistance persist? Don’t remember girls resisting learning to read at all. I don’t know where that came from or to what extent it was widespread or just local to our rural areas.

We usually made at least one trip to Boise (100 miles away) a year, and I’d go to the Idaho State Traveling Library in the basement of the capitol building and borrow as large a stack of books as was allowed, and mail them back when I was done. Read all of my dad’s “Blood and Thunders” as well. It was stories I was after, though I read all of the magazines we received as well — Time. Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Fortune, Readers Digest. Even in the capital city of Idaho none of the small department stores or drugstores seemed to carry books at that time. I suspect that it was the act of buying books to keep that they resisted, not reading, but the absence of libraries was noticeable. Even school libraries were minimal, and most, particularly in the lower grades had none at all.

We have an excellent library system in this capitol county. I don’t know how good it is in the rest of the state. I have family members who are appalled by the bookshelves and clutter of books in my house, and I’m guilty, I admit. Six 6-shelf bookcases and a secretary, and quite a few piles as well.

In our local libraries I have never paid any attention to whether the people there were male or female as far as numbers were concerned. One might expect more women, stay at home moms, to be there in the daytime when the kids were in school.

I went looking for a picture of a nice, comfortable home library, which involves a comfortable place to sit with good lighting, and nice bookshelves, and was appalled at what turned up. Whoever was collecting home library pictures was not a reader.

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