Saturday, May 27, 2006

Movies Inspire Reading

People who love reading usually start at an early age. My mother took us regularly to the library where favorites like Where the Wild Things Are and The Hungry Caterpillar fueled my imagination.

What happened to reading for fun in my teenage years? Was I too cool to read? Was I working excessively and lacking the time? Was it the constant assignment anxiety associated with deciphering the classics?

Something happened that made me afraid to read, a self-doubt crept in, my teenage brain wasn’t smart enough.

Movies were my salvation, a threshold into reading. I no longer trusted the visions conjured from reading and lazily relied on the cinema. Simply, I saw the movie then picked up the book. If I didn’t recognize any visual clues, settings or characters, I would toss the book. I didn’t get it.

Watching Capote last night, led to this embarrassing confession. I’m currently reading In Cold Blood which I started two nights ago. Visualizing settings and remembering characters is a snap, unlike my befuddled teenage self.

This is important in my quest to encourage Mississippi readers. Books can be humbling and make you feel inadequate. Teenagers face these feelings everyday from a variety of sources. Let us stop including books in a long list of educational bullies.

What can we do to help? Well, we can stop being tightwads and replace books made into movies with new movie cover releases. Yes, I think it silly, you can buy Brokeback Mountain as a stand-alone book rather than hand the patron Annie Proulx’s Close Range.

Teachers, why not assign some books for pleasure reading like the DEAR, drop everything and read, program. Coaches, have you heard of “one book, one team” reading? In my academic position, marketing movie/book discussion programs may be a viable link to our young adults.

Oh, and lets not forget the easy displays like "Seen the Movie, Read the Book" or "Don't Judge a Book by its Movie!"

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