I invite young people and their parents, teachers and coaches to ponder the decline in reading. I hope young people will let us know what they see as barriers to reading.
After I graduated from college, my first job in the classroom was to teach all subjects to seventh- and eighth-graders in one room. I could keep them entertained in the afternoons by reading from J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Hobbit" or Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time." As I think back to that scene more than 30 years ago, I remember all of the students as attentive. In those days, children had only television and sports to compete with reading time.
I hope doctors, lawyers, reporters and others will take time to write about how reading about the ravages of a disease, or injustice or indifference molded them into the professionals they are today. I would especially like to hear from people who saw clocks vanish as they sank into the magic brought to them by conjurors like Eudora Welty, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, William Shakespeare or any names they want to offer.
I hope my friends who need to know about battles in Britain, Biloxi or Bull Run will also add their voices to this dialogue. Tell us what it is like to walk over ground made sacred from blood and sacrifice and how reading history is a great way to peg our understanding of the larger world.
I also hope West Virginians who are proud of our state will also let us know how great it is to read the work of native West Virginians like Pearl S. Buck, Jayne Anne Phillips or Michael Tomasky.
With high-tech electronic tablets and the like, the old is giving way to the new. I understand and celebrate this cycle of life. But unlike a debate about teaching cursive, we have too much to lose if reading is trampled under the urgent wheels of technology.
I do not want the beauty and power of words to be replaced by LOL.
To that end, I turn the discussion about reading over to you. Please tell us about books you have known or loved.
Dear book lovers
What books still hold meaning for you? Or what works do you wish to share with others? Please tell us about them. Send submissions of 400 words or fewer to:
Books I have loved, Sunday Gazette-Mail, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301; or email gaze...@wvgazette.com.
Williams, a retired Gazette staff writer, is an English teacher.