Cross-posted on realmenreadwithkids.wordpress.com – Oct. 21, 2010
During the past few weeks I’ve been combing through our family photos – both print and digital – looking for images of men reading – my son, my husband, my dad, cousins, friends, anyone reading a book or magazine or even a website. In the collection of 30 years or so of photos I found exactly TWO – both of my husband reading the Sunday comics with our son when he was very young.
This discovery – or lack thereof – stopped me in my tracks. Why? Because we are a family of readers. We have always had shelves and shelves of books in our home. My son started getting regular delivery of books from friends when he was 6 weeks old and he’s now 23. My husband and I are both readers. We’ve had book club meetings at my house. And through all these years we’ve never thought about this simple act of reading as an event worthy of capturing in an image. It made me think about how seldom I have seen images of people reading. The only places I can think of are libraries – with those big READ posters showing celebrities holding a book. Outside of libraries (and maybe schools) there are very few images of people reading. When and where is the last time you saw an image of someone reading?
The more I thought about this, the more I wondered about how we portray the things we value in our society today. We are bombarded with advertisements and TV shows containing images of skinny girls, beautiful skin, buff guys, and tasty foods. There are images everywhere of musicians, sports stars, movie stars, and things to buy. These ads make us value those qualities and items and want to be like those people in them. Young people are especially swayed by these kinds of images.
So, I have to wonder if we create and display more positive images of people reading – especially of men reading – will seeing those images increase the value of reading in the eyes of the viewers? Could we get more boys to become readers if they see more images of men reading each day? Would attitudes about the value of reading change just by being surrounded with images of people happily reading?
I think it is worth a try… so here’s your challenge. Create or capture an image of yourself – or someone else – reading. Put it up somewhere. Share it. Show it to kids. Post it. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a man reading with kids, post it on the realmenreadwithkids FlickR site.
Can we improve the value of reading in the eyes of our kids, in the hearts of those reluctant readers, for a new generation?
We’ll never know if we don’t try. I dare you.