Friday, February 09, 2007

Reading as Entertainment

I'm not convinced that all reading is worthwhile. It seems schools
are always getting kids to read. And that's fine. But isn't some
reading just entertainment?

I've been reading the "Left Behind" series of books lately; they're
scienceish-fiction about life and times after the rapture of all
Christians. I've been almost embarrassed by it, because it just seems
like fun. I don't think I'm learning many new word; I'm not sure I'm
improving my grammar, nor my knowledge of geography. The opinions
about the end times match what I've learned about the book of
Revelation from the Bible.

The same goes for the Tom Clancey book I read. It was fun, but I
don't know that I learned anything.

Why is reading extolled so much? Literacy certainly is good;
it's a useful skill. When a school of kids reads hundreds of books
over the summer, the school may celebrate. That seems fine -- but did
the kids really learn anything? Or were they just reading fluffy stuff?

In Hayden's Uncle Steve West's recent blog entry, Thinking Locally, Acting Locally?, he mentions that USA Today seems about like watching TV. I agree; in
fact, I've noticed that much of the news in USA Today lags NPR and
the News & Observer by a day or two. (Maybe that's because it's
distributed by satellite, and the satellites are so far away.)

Is reading just another form of entertainment that can be compared
with watching television or playing a video game?

And is entertainment good or bad?

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