I have met a lot of teenagers who don’t like reading, some of them outright hating it. They were forced to read a novel they considered boring or had too much reading homework for comfort or just didn’t understand the significance of Oedipus no matter how much their English teacher tried to explain, and so on.
This morning I was on Facebook and in under “Books” in the profile of a teenage friend (I know this person, I’m not a stalker), they have written, “F*** Reading,” only spelled out in its entirety. Sorry, I won’t pretend the F-Bomb doesn’t exist but I’m not interested in having it appear in my blog (you can send me an email about the hypocrisy of self-censorship later, dear reader). I know this person doesn’t like to read – they and I have spoken about it – and while they can’t pinpoint what made them decide reading wasn’t for them I was surprised by their volatile, public (yes, Facebook is pretty public, no matter how private you think it is) proclamation against reading.
I’m concerned for two reasons. First, much of what I write is aimed at teenage boys, often considered the most difficult demographic to get to pick up a book on their own for the sheer joy of reading. Second, in my anecdotal experience, it appears if a young man dislikes reading, they really, really hate reading and it often takes a grand and profound experience for them to be open to reading ever again.
All of this has lead me to believe a radical new proposal that will shift how America conducts its public education system is in order. Maybe instead of pushing reading or English class altogether they could replace that curriculum with classes about drugs, swearing, sex, and all the other things parents don’t want their teens doing and let the classes cover every single detail, no matter how “obscene.” Maybe this way the youth of America will stop wanting to have unprotected sex and start sneaking away to read copies of Charlotte’s Web in the closet or jump in the back seat with a special someone to analyze Walt Whitman poetry or get together with a group of friends in someone’s basement when their parents are out of town to have dirty, nasty group book club meetings.
What do you think? Will my new educational platform fly, or have I doomed my chances of ever running for office against someone who doesn’t understand satire? Do you know anyone who hates to read and do they tell you why?
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part II (“F” Reading) and Thursday’s Part III (“How to fail at reading”) and this week’s installment of Your Friday Recommendation – “Five Books For Boys.”