Saturday, April 14, 2018

Read, Kid, Read!

Time to fess up: Who else was a Hardy Boys fanatic back in the 70s?

Okay, we're showing our age, but that's fine, since we apparently grew up knowing the value of a good book and losing ourselves in a good story.

I just picked these books up the other day from someone local who posted them on a sales page to add to my small collection that does include a handful of first editions (like the gray one in the upper corner). Not that I need more stuff in my house, but books don't count as "stuff" and ... Hardy Boys, the editions that I spent so many trips walking to the library (yes, walking) as a kid to read every one they had. They had quite a few, but this collection I just nabbed has some I don't recognize. They're the 40s and 50s in line. I'm not sure if our little hometown library stopped buying them after they had so many or if these came out after I'd moved on to more literary reads.

I know, most girls opted for Nancy Drew instead. I never got into Nancy Drew. I've always been more drawn to male writers for some reason. There are exceptions, but most of my go-to authors are male. Maybe it's the different perspective that I don't have personally. Maybe it's the grittier feel they tend to have. Either way, the Hardy Boys were my book obsession way back when.
[Side note: I do realize the HB/ND books were written by many authors using one name, but it was the characters and stories I loved, not the author I was following.]

I still love a good mystery, as long as it's tame rather than graphic, fun rather than dark. Cozy mysteries are great for a quick escape in between my grittier literary reads, which I was not reading as a child.

Personally, I find it a bit alarming that most book series obsessions for young people these days are rather dark and intense. No, I am not saying they shouldn't read those things. I believe in avid reading in a wide range. But whatever kids focus on the most is what seeps most deeply into their minds and their souls. We used to have, along with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Judy Blume and Madeline D'Engle... and then came the Babysitter's Club and such.

Today's young people have far different reading material. I won't list names because it could be taken as slanderous and I do not mean it that way. All books have their place and kids need to select what they enjoy to make reading as enjoyable as possible. Still, when what's being promoted as "everyone must read this" is all dark and post-apocalyptic and violent and kids think they have to read it because everyone is (yes, that's the way we work), what is that doing to their psyches?

Where are the fun, upbeat YA books and series and why are they not being pushed by the "everyone must read this" people who are supporting books with big money in order to make more big money? It's money that sells books. It's huge advertising pushes that make people think they must read whatever is currently being pushed. Don't fool yourself into thinking we are choosing what gets published and read. The industry doesn't work that way. It follows the money. Yes, when a sensation has begun and people start clamoring for it, then more of that genre is published. Still, it starts somewhere, and that always leads back to big promotion.

It might be time to take a better look at current reading lists, especially the required reading in our schools. Have you seen your child read a classic lately, or something fun and upbeat? Or are they all deep social issues and societal injustice books? Yes, those matter, also, but so does fun and upbeat with kids just being kids and having fun routing out the bad guys and romping around with siblings and your family.

Of course, most important is that kids should be reading at least as much as they're on screens of some kind in order to help balance and strengthen the brain synapses. Too cold or wet to be outside? Take them to the library. Walk if it's close enough. I guarantee those memories will be far more pleasant when they get older than will any of their time-killing on some screen.

And... reading makes us more empathetic. It does. From what I see, we could use a whole lot more real empathy rather than more social justice warriors only following the crowd.

Jump out of the crowd. Read what others aren't reading. Think your own thoughts formed by wide exposure to many other thoughts instead of only what you're being told on some screen or within your own house. Skip the must-read lists and browse. I've found some of the most wonderful books on the clearance tables of local bookstores.

I may have to go back and read the rest of the Hardy Boys books, also.

[Did anyone get the title of this post and where it came from?]

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