Everyone tells you to raise a reader. Read to them when they are babies, read them stories every night, model reading behavior. A great, or even good dad, will devote hours in slavish devotion to this idea. Well, here’s one dad who will tell you what the evil publishing scientists and lobbyists won’t: reading isn’t fundamental; it’s fundamentally mental. Teach your child to read and you’re in for fifteen years of hardship and maybe even more. Here’s why:
1. Reading with your kid eats up precious time. “Lost” is on at 8PM where I live. Enough said.
2. Nightly reading isn’t a good habit. It’s an expensive addiction that will only lead to more books and larger books. Books that will bleed a family’s budget dry and consume short-in-supply storage space faster than a collection of restaurant napkins. If they must read, start them early at the public library, which was invented to help the addicted and afflicted.
3. Teach a child to read and you lose them forever. If I have to say, “Put that book down and watch this football game with me,” one more time, I will scream. Books interfere with things you could be doing together. Don’t get me started on how hard it is to clean off books soaked in mashed potatoes when read at dinner time.
4. Book-reading kids are sassy know-it-alls. At ten, my child should know exactly ZERO more than I do. It does no one any good if she can name the capitol of California, when I know it’s Los Angeles. Book reading children extract every advantage they can get and will trick you out of ice cream cones and cookies if you bet with them.
5. Book readers don’t listen and they hide behind the immersion in a book to avoid household chores like cleaning the furnace or hosing down the cats. “Let them read,” is society’s way of giving up on the problem and allowing book-reading to expand unchecked.
6. Book reading leads to writing. Writing can lead to poetry, short stories, and even fiction. These are not healthy pursuits for young bodies and minds.
7. Reading leads to higher education. It has been proven that higher education leads to penury. And if not penury, a career waiting tables “while waiting for that big break.” Education is just a big hole. Not since the 19th century has anyone even hoped they could learn it all and dominate the subject.
So, there you have it: as cogent an argument against reading as I can muster. Let them read if you must, but monitor the practice more carefully than if you saw them reaching for a pack of Salems. This stuff is dangerous, it grows like bamboo, and it lasts a lifetime.
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