I remember how, as a child, I loved to escape my small world through reading. I traveled back in time to do chores with Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I lived on a farm with Charlotte and Wilbur out in the barn. I visited other continents through non-fiction books, and learned all about the mountains and oceans I hoped to someday see for myself through the picture books and National Geographic Magazines I found sitting on end tables in doctor's offices. But most importantly, once I became old enough to ride my bike beyond the end of the driveway, I found my local library!
As the Internet took over our world in my young adulthood, I saw the value of books begin to deteriorate in the eyes of the younger generations. Thanks to Google, Yahoo, and AOL search, you no longer needed to immerse yourself in the written imagery to travel the world; you could simply find a live street cam or take a virtual tour, thanks to someone else's effort in recording their personal experiences.
The youngest generation does not even seem to be utilizing the search engines, but are growing up playing video games with detailed graphics and enhanced sound, but never learn the power of their own minds. They do not get to experience being so lost in a book that they can't put it down until they reach the end. Or reading that last book in the series and spending weeks going over in their minds what could be or should be for the characters in the future.
Books take us places that nothing else can. They take us into our own imaginations. They open doors for us that no one and nothing else can open. We do not only join the characters on their own paths, but we create our own journey in their time and place, walking along with them. Reading changes who we are, and transforms us into what we can be.
Add to that, the value of reading from the academic standpoint. Everything we do in the academic world requires a sound hold of the basic reading skills. Reading is everywhere in everything we do.
As we travel from town to town, the first place we typically look for is the library. It is our place to relax, our place to explore, and our place to think. But sadly, many of the towns we visit no longer have libraries. The buildings stand as shells of what they once were. Starbucks and Panaras have taken over the corners, and internet access has replaced those books on the tables in waiting areas.
Yet today, we saw something I had never seen before as we drove through a Portland suburb...
It was amazing, and it started my imagination flowing. What if they were on every street corner? What if every child had access to one of these outside their apartment building or at their bus stop?
Just imagine how the world could change... maybe we can find a book that will tell us how!