Hey there world!
Tomorrow I turn off the blog, put my head down, and finish writing ‘Bast’, edit ‘Scurvy Dog’, and re-write the ending to ‘Mini’. My guess is that I will be flat-out until November with this.
But before I go, this is a view-point as taken from my seat behind the keyboard. A view-point I am extremely passionate about. So, before you run, just know that it is neither political, religious, or in reference to that sport stuff, which all happens to other people as far as I am concerned.
It is an odd town, this town within my very Australia.
Whilst my family ‘lives’ here, it is merely a place for me to ‘dwell’.
Why ‘dwell’ in a place that your family ‘lives’, leaving me waiting to start ‘living’ again, albeit somewhere else? It is the most obvious question for you to ask, should the boot be found on the other metaphorical foot, it is the question I would ask. Know too that I am getting older standing still, caught in a magical loop that cannot be broken until we leave this wee dust and fly bitten place.
The answers, are simple. My wife is from here and loves it, as are her family. My children are here, and don’t know any different. My love for them is greater than my love for myself, they are more important than I will ever be, and it is where they are happiest; here, now.
Yet, there is another reason. A reason that will seem utterly ridiculous to many, although not to all. It has nothing to do with antisocial behaviour, of which there is a deplorable abundance here. Nor is it the aesthetics of the town, which is left greatly wanting. It is not the general lack of amenities, nor the inability for socialisation beyond the pub, or amongst whatever the local sporting team of the moment maybe. It is not the weather, although the town moves in next to the sun every summer, leaving it hotter than the entrance to hell. I have seen flies faint because of the heat on my front veranda. It is not the people, who via my own observances at least, live in a world revolving around employment more suited to strength of body above strength of mind, should they be working at all.
It is far simpler than all of that.
There is no book shop.
A few places carry paperbacks, but the shops they can be found in are not the shops one would look to, to find a best seller list, let alone specialities. We have a fabulous newsagent, with a meagre few books for sale. That said, it would appear the local greasy spoon carries more in the area of literature, insert quantity not quality into this statement.
A lack of book shop, new or secondhand, dampens the desire for children to read as prolifically as they could be. It lessens the excitement of adding their personal touches to the world’s found between pages. It diminishes the level of literacy within a town, leading to those with lesser imagination and breadth of worldly knowledge, both make-believe and real. Mostly though, it deprives all of a magical cave crossed with a time machine filled with a million voices. A place where people can get lost for hours standing beside the front door.
We have a library, it is small but remarkably well stocked for its size. Yet it appears perpetually empty of minds wandering in and out, and is geographically isolated from the rest of this wee town. Thankfully the three schools in town, two primary, one secondary, bear libraries. My wife is even the librarian at one of them incidentally, so the option is there for any student to lose themselves within a libraries glorious folds. However, I fear they too are underutilised. The high school is geared more to the world of the unskilled worker and the apprentice, than it is to university or tertiary expansion of the mind, both in the sciences and the arts. My understanding is that any child hoping to undertake a further education, or at least hoping to gain university entrance must rely on distance education, specifically due to the lack of numbers being encouraged to do more professionally than to set themselves up in such a way that they will never leave this town. Yes, it doesn’t matter what someone does to make a living. What does matter is having the ability to make the choices of what they want to do with themselves once they have left school.
I read somewhere recently, that for the first time in history, the generation beneath my own is the very first to be more illiterate than the one they will grow to replace. In another area, I read that the design of prisons within the western world, are created to cater to prisoners with a literacy level of the average 11-year-old child. Sadly, in a separate paper, I read that the literacy level of prisoners in Australia was, when averaged out, the equivalent of an 11-year-old school kid.
Aside, reading, regardless of medium, personally I prefer the feel of a book in my hand, is what is most important. It does not matter if a child reads from a tablet or a computer screen. It does not matter if the only place a child reads is at school, or beneath the bed sheets late at night with a torch in their hand. Just as long as they are reading. Magazines and newspapers, downloaded manuscripts, tiny picture books, massive novels, it doesn’t matter, just so long as they are reading.
Reading should not be confined to separate areas (I am alluding to fiction, do not include porn or area’s designated ‘R18’ in this), there are only things to read, to be loved. As an example, it doesn’t matter that Harry Potter was written for children, adults can enjoy them equally as much. The same applies to Dickens in that whilst they may have been written for an adult audience, there is nothing to say that he can not be enjoyed by children.
The most important place for reading, is with children. If children do not develop an interest in reading, they will grow up to be adults without either imaginations and creativity. The world needs imaginative adults to survive. The wheel, or agriculture, or whisky would not exist without adults with an imagination. Yes, I realise that books weren’t around at that stage of the technical evolution of man, but you get my point (I hope). Books also help to teach people how to cope with failure if the first thing they attempt does not work, or is flawed in someway, telling the reader that it is ok if that thing doesn’t work. Reading makes people far more worldly, more mature in their view of the world and the people in it.
Children should be read to as often as possible, it generates an interest in books, leading to them picking one up and begin reading it to themselves.
But really, just read. Go to your local library, support your local bookstore. The world needs both of them as much as the world needs books and readers and you.
Click the picture above, and I’ll catch you on the flip side.
Love you all,
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