I’ve decided I’ll write articles once a week about bookish things, whether it’s trends, publishing information, or just things I’ve noticed through my own personal experiences. This is my first, so thanks for taking the time to read it and maybe it’ll help you somehow, someway. (Warning it is a bit lengthy!)
I’ve noticed the startling decline of young adults who read for pleasure. Most are too busy for reading because they’re out YOLO-ing (You Only Live Once). At the high school I work at, if you asked 10 students what they’re reading, only 1 would answer with a non-academic novel; that to me is extremely sad. I’ve been out of high school for 7 years, but I’m positive it hasn’t changed much. So I do understand that in high school you’re busy with academics, athletics, clubs, and trying to not make a fool out of yourself, but I was there at one point but I still made time for hobby reading. And I’m not saying they’re not out there, but these individuals are an endangered species.
The magic of the written word is dying out like a burning candle as generations pass. And the new light that’s taking its place: strobe lights, iPhone screens, video games on the computer, reality shows on television–all these artificial things that are making this generation of high school students grow up way faster than they should be, informing them of things that aren’t really of any importance. Seriously, why is it important what the Kardashians had for dinner on Wednesday?
It’s an epidemic.
I grew up with Harry Potter and am extremely grateful for J.K. Rowling’s amazing contribution to the literary world. It was an amazing experience to grow up reading one of the best fantasy book series out there. There is so much that books provide. They transport you to a magical place where no airplane, car, or boat can take you. I’m obsessed with fantasy books, have and always will be, no matter how old I get. Your mind is working, your imagination is growing, your knowledge is widening, and you’re experiencing life through a few cleverly, well-thought out plots and fanciful order of words. It’s as simple as that. Those who read are experiencing more of life than those who are not–I’m pro-traveling and to me reading a book is just as beneficial as going to a different country. Travel to a country and read a book and you’ll really be experiencing life. (I hope to do be able to do this one day)
When I was a child, I always read books. I’ve always loved it and it had a lot to do with the way I was raised and my elementary school experiences. First, my mother was and still is a third grade teacher, while I was attending elementary school. Yes, there were the not so fun parts of it–like getting workbooks and having assignments during summer breaks–but there was one thing that she did that I think that every parent should do: she took me to the public library once a week. We were told to borrow one book and would be expected to finish it and write a report on it before our next visit. (This could backfire on many children, but in my case it went well, because it was my favorite part of the summer assignments she gave me). To me, reading the book I chose was a nice break from all the workbooks pages I had to complete. Second, at my elementary school we had a school-wide program called Young Authors–each child was given a blank book and we would write a story and go through the manuscript/draft, editing, and illustrating process. It was fantastic and it was what I looked forward to every year. I still have the books I wrote and illustrated 14+ years ago. It really starts at home and at an early age. If parents are proactive in their child’s literary growth they may find themselves surprised later on.
Fast-forward to middle school, I continued to read and even entered a book poster contest. (I won 2nd place with my poster representation of Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. I still remember what it looked like! It hung on the wall in the library for the entire year.)
Then, high school came along. I made the volleyball team and found a lot of my time devoted to practices and games and weekend tournaments, along with the homework that was becoming increasingly more difficult. But, that still didn’t stop me. I continued to read and would go to local bookstores to buy books instead of clothes. (Tell that to a high schooler now and they’d probably look at you as if there were marbles falling out of your ears). When volleyball was off-season and I was in 12th grade, I got released after 4th period, roughly around 12:30pm everyday. I had a car, but with a shallow wallet and friends still in school, there really wasn’t much to do, so I went home. I finished what little homework I had and found I had hours upon hours of free time–I watched the entire Bones series, then I read, read, and then read some more. Until something horrible happened, I ran out of books to read. I’m an avid fantasy romance genre reader. I’m not proud to say it, but I very rarely stray from this genre because it is my absolute favorite and I’ve never read a book outside of this genre that I ever truly loved and enjoyed (even to this day!)
So, what is a book lover to do when she runs out of all the fantasy romance books to read because she’s read every single one that interests her and has searched far and wide for more to read but came out empty handed?
Yes, this is when I started to write. In my second semester of my senior year in high school, I wrote for fun. I tell this to my friends some times, because they ask me how I even wrote a book, and when I mention that I wrote because I was bored, they looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t write intending to actually finish a book or to self-publish (a whole entirely different article entry). I just wrote because I wanted to write a story I could read, since I had run out of them. I didn’t have a special writing process; I just wrote what came into my head–most of these ideas are unfinished, juvenile ideas saved as a .doc on my laptop. Whenever I hit a writer’s block, I just moved on to a new .doc, a new story, a new start. No big deal because I didn’t have any emotional connection to the stories. I was just writing to pass time.
However, one day I started a story, a story about a girl named Selena with a special power to control electricity in a world where these people with special powers could get an egg, a physical extraction of a portion of their power, that could hatch into these fantastical creatures! This was the first story that I started that just kept on going and going and going. Before I knew it, I had written 500 pages. 500 pages of completely raw and terrible literature, but a story nonetheless. I still have this first manuscript that should be burned because of how bad it is, but I keep it as a reminder to see how far I’ve come and how far the story has developed. (I swore that I would never let anyone read it!) The entire plot since has been torn apart and rewritten, but the bones of the story and the characters still remained true, and that’s what I found important because it showed me how real the world and the characters were to me–their journey may have changed, but they still remained themselves.
Reading has a rippling effect on people. Yours may not be the same as mine. But, nobody can deny that reading will benefit you in someway or another, whether it’s in a couple years or a decade or two. It’s important for parents to encourage their children to read and show them how truly wonderful books are, because you never know, they may be the next J.K. Rowling!