I abstained. I know, pat me on the back. But anyway, it got me thinking about reading in general.
Almost everyone I know is a reader. I look around me on the train, and everyone's got a book. There's a guy I pass regularly while walking around town, who reads-and-walks. He seems to mostly avoid running into things..
But yeah. Reading for pleasure is pretty common. Not being able to read in our society would be a huge disadvantage, not just because of the obvious business/career related issues, but because it cuts off an avenue of entertainment that can't really be replaced by anything else. My ex husband was once described by my brother as an 'intellectual desert' - he had nothing to talk about outside of his immediate life and experience, and seemed incapable of abstract thought or extrapolation. He also didn't read. He could read, but chose not to - I don't recall ever having seen him pick up a book. This is the environment The Kid spent his primary school years in.
The Kid learned to read so that he could play Heroes 3. I have no idea how much reading he did between then and when he came to live with me - I know he'd read some of the Harry Potter novels but other than that, who knows? When he first came he wasn't really interested in reading (it was all about the computer). Then he picked up a series of graphic novels in the Japanese fantasy/horror genre (sorry to those who are big into this, I'm not well-versed and can't remember the name). He read those for a while, then there was a gap, then he discovered Darren Shan. He recommended these to me and I've read a couple. They are more horror, this time mostly vampires and werewolves, fast paced and easy to read - I call them Light Reading Lite. He's devoured all the Darren Shan books in the school library, and wants to join the Wellington Library so he can get his hands on the rest.
And now he's discovered Terry Pratchett.
Yesterday, I picked him up from Pukerua Bay - he'd stayed the night with a friend after going paintballing - and on the way home, he read his book. On the way to Mum's for dinner, he read his book, and on the way back, he read his book. There are a LOT of Terry Pratchett books. And by the time he's finished with them, he will likely have discovered Charles Stross, or Neil Gaiman, or Iain Banks, or some other writer that successfully combines geekery with science with fantasy.
Have you got any idea how happy this makes me?
As this computer games > graphic novels > Darren Shan > Terry Pratchett transformation has been going on, The Kid's vocabulary has increased and his spelling has improved (his writing still looks like spider scratchings but hey, so does my brother's!). World of Warcraft has improved his typing - it's hard to be useful in a raid if you can't communicate quickly. And he's speaking and thinking about things other than his immediate life and experience, using words that communicate his thoughts accurately. He doesn't get lost when abstract stuff comes up.
And I look at the bookshelves of people I admire and respect, and many of them contain the authors in whose direction he's heading. Yes, I know, I might be getting ahead of myself here, but *SQUEE*!!
So I find it hard to buy into the idea that kids should be reading things set by their parents to challenge them, and that comics are somehow 'less than'. From my perspective, pretty much anything someone reads by choice is a good thing, because the act of reading expands the mind as much as the content of the text. I think being wanky about what your kid reads is more about feeding the parent's ego than about expanding the kid's mind to be honest, and those who discount comics as literature that has benefit for children are taking a narrowminded view of the world that's probably more to their child's detriment in the long term than their choice of reading matter would be.
In other news, I had some Raro* on Saturday night (see Tats push the boundaries!), and I seem to have had some kind of Screaming Itchy reaction to it. I narrowed it down to this through not having had anything else unusual or been in any strange environments. I wonder what's in Raro that might cause suce a reaction?
* I haven't had Raro for maybe 6 or 7 years
PS Please don't rain, I have to walk to Newtown today.