Tag Archives: reading

A Trip to the Library

Just a quick post this morning.  I’ll be back later today with a more detailed look at the industry and, hopefully, some news from NRP about one of our favorite authors.

Any way, yesterday I ran away to the library.  Yes, I did so willingly and happily.  You see, my small community has a brand new library that is just about everything you could want from a library.  Beautiful physical facilities, wonderful selection, state of the art computer lab, plenty of parking — something that had always been at a premium — and a wonderful staff.  No matter what the reason for going to the library, it’s always a pleasant experience.

But yesterday was one filled with a sense of awe, wonder and satisfaction.  I arrived less than five minutes after the library opened and the parking lot was already full.  To put this into perspective, the parking lot is the size of a mid-sized grocery store lot.  So, plenty of spaces.  I parked and started looking around.  There were kids there.  Lots and lots of kids.  Some were in costume, most weren’t.  The occasion?  Suessfest.

Ah, Dr. Suess can still bring out the kids.  They’d come, dragging their parents and siblings and the occasional grandparent, to see the Cat in the Hat and hear Green Eggs and Ham.  They could get their faces painted and eat free cookies.

But what impressed me was that while they loved all that, what really excited them were the books.  The Friends of the Library put out all the Dr. Suess books they’d collected and the books disappeared as fast as they could be put out.  Then the kids went into the library to check out books — books of all sizes, shapes and topics.

Then it dawned on me.  These kids were readers.  Readers!  At a time when we’re being told our kids aren’t reading any more, here were dozens upon dozens of kids willingly, happily looking for books to read.  Better yet, parents were guiding them, discussing what they wanted to check out and helping them find even more books that might be of interest.

When I see something like yesterday, it reminds me why we shouldn’t always take these studies as gospel.  Data is only as good as the sample pool and as the questions asked.  If you want to know if kids read, talk to the librarians and children who work with them on a daily basis.  But, most of all, talk to the kids themselves.  Better yet, watch them.  Actions really do speak louder than words.

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Animanga Viewpoint

We’re excited to announce our new review column by Darwin Garrison.  Animanga Viewpoint will be where Darwin can discuss and review what’s going on in the worlds of anime and manga.  His first post, which just went live, can be found here.  His next post will be on the 24th.  After that, he will be posting the first and third Wednesday of each month.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about Darwin’s column is because I know how large an impact manga can have on younger readers, especially boys.  I was first introduced to it about 10 years ago when I was trying to find something — anything — my son would read.  Once a boy who had read everything he could get his hands on, thanks to a teacher who used reading as a punishment, he hated reading.  As a reader and a writer, I was desperate to find something to rekindle that spark.

Two things did.  The first was listening to books on tape on the way to and from school.  I’ll forever thank Jim Dale for narrating the Harry Potter books and — no, I’m not kidding — Diane Mott Davidson for putting her Goldy the Caterer books on tape.  Those showed my son that books can be fun and entertaining.

But that still didn’t get him to put book in hand and sit down to read.  Manga did.  I’d never have thought of it but for one of the youth librarians in our local library.  She also happened to work at one of the local middle school libraries at the time, iirc.  When I explained the situation to her, she took my son and I immediately to the manga collection and that was all it took.  We checked out a couple of volumes and, dragging his heels, my son agreed to try them.

Well, long story short, he came into my room later that night wanting to know if we could go back to the library the next day because he wanted more books.  It didn’t matter that they were comic books on steroids at that point.  All I cared about was that he was reading.  Those dozens of manga books he checked out of the library and then the many more that we bought led him back to enjoying reading.

Since then, I’ve talked to a number of parents and teachers who have seen the same thing happen over and over.  I’ve also read my fair share of manga as well.  Some of it is very good.  Some isn’t.  But that’s how it is with any book.

All this is simply my way of saying “thank you” to Darwin for letting all of us know what’s going on in the manga and anime world.  As far as I’m concerned, manga is as much a “book” as anything else, especially if it helps get one more youngster interested in reading.

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