Reading – Then and Now

The Youth Services staff enjoyed a lively conversation in regards to our favorite books as children. Some of the series we favored were: Donna Parker, Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, The Dana Girls.  Once upon a time, parents dreaded the steady diet of what they considered unworthy volumes of “tripe” their children were enamored with, and preferred they would pick up literary classics like, Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island, or Little Women.

We, on the other hand, consumed our favorites with relish, some of us admitting to reading favorite volumes over and over. We couldn’t get enough of the mystery, humor, beloved or hated characters, and the overall familiarity these books presented to us. Classics? Not interested.

You know what? We had it right. The lure of our favorite “tripe” expanded our worlds, introduced us to language both written and spoken, sated our hunger for knowledge and at the same time, made us hungry for more. Book lovers were born of these disrespected volumes, paving the way of our lifelong love of learning.

Literacy experts now base great value on reading – anything – as long as the skill is developed, practiced, and strives for mastery. Comic books, cereal boxes, games of any kind which include vocabulary are encouraged for honing reading skills and interest in the written word. So much research has been done showing early literacy sets the tone for overall learning throughout life, that no path can be overlooked if it builds reading skills.

So, outlooks have changed, but the true barometer for promoting literacy is to locate what a child finds appealing, then let them loose on it, to develop a long-term relationship with books and reading. And if you are not sure what they may like, most of our libraries have some Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew series books on our shelves…

Caroline Poppendeck, Librarian
Head of Youth Services
Steele Memorial Library

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