When I try to view the world of information through the eyes of my children, I see an environment much more rich in images than the one in which I grew up. For us, television was (in the early years at least) a Saturday morning affair, movies were a rare treat, and computer and video games far back to the future. We learned by listening, and by reading.
Times, in the Western world anyway, have clearly changed. Television is commonplace, if not passť, movies frequently available, and computers and video games considered a necessary part of every childhood. Kids are used to image-rich communication of information, and, unfortunately, impatient for instant gratification.
In this context, I was delighted to find my elder son to be as avid a reader as any in the generations before him, and anxious to find channels through which to encourage my younger son's more reluctant reading. He is one of the rare few who dropped Harry Potter mid-stream. Indeed, only fast-moving, unique series like Artemis Fowl and the Darren Shan saga have captured his enthusiasm.
But then Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released in DVD format. My son watched it three times in a row, then dived back into the books and emerged only after finishing them all in a few days of fanatic reading. Somehow the movie kick-started his interest in reading the books; in his case, images fuelled imagination.
Given this experience, I plan to keep plying him with book/video combinations. In a few days we'll have Fellowship of the Ring to go with the Tolkien trilogy. Coming not soon enough is Ender's Game the Movie, and Orson Scott Card has written several remarkable books in this universe. There are ongoing movie rumors of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, a wonderfully engaging and long-running series.
So don't give up on late blooming readers; perhaps, like my son, they just need more images to kindle their interest and fire their imaginations with the magic to be found in books.
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