In Praise of (Paper) Books…

At some point in our lives, we were probably given the dreaded summer reading assignment. My daughter kept a McGuinness family tradition alive by waiting until two days before school started to get going on her assignment. She did get everything finished just under the wire (another family tradition.) When I asked her what she thought of the book, she stated “ehhhh…it was kind of boring.” I think this happens to many of us when we are assigned things to read, not necessarily of our own choosing. I know that my most tedious summer reading project was Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” heading into 11th grade Honors English. I knew that it was an important book, and I knew what Dickens meant to English literature, but I did not enjoy one bit of it. Again, when the word “assigned” pops up, a sense of dread sets in…

Today is National Read a Book day in the United States. I would wager that most of us absolutely love our devices and modern technology. It can be difficult to remember what life was like before the advent of the iPhone a decade ago. Now, it is hard to imagine daily life without one. That being said, there is still great satisfaction in reading a book, a real one made out of paper. There is a greater connection between the reader and the tangible feel of a real book, plus you usually retain more from reading a paper book. My greatest weakness in life is spending money on biographies and history books, even though it has been 7 years since I have taught history.  All of the great tidbits and insights that I was able to put into my history lessons came from all of the outside reading that I did on my own.

I challenge everyone to try to read at least one book of your own choosing before the end of September. Don’t pick something based on your classwork, don’t pick an AR book, don’t pick something that someone told you that you “should” read. Just pick something that interests you. The Civil War, football, astronomy, anything you want. I guarantee you that it is time well spent. Happy National Read a Book Day to all!

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

–Walt Disney

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