Google+ Reading Teen: An Open Letter to Teens - Those Who Read and Especially Those Who Don't by Austin Reale

Monday, November 11, 2013

An Open Letter to Teens - Those Who Read and Especially Those Who Don't by Austin Reale

This post is my attempt to encourage my fellow teens to read.
In my opinion, teen reading is way, way too rare. When was that last time you saw a teenager in public with their nose buried in a book rather than clicking away on their iPhone? It’s a sad thing, really. So, here’s what I’m asking: Share this post. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here; I’m not claiming to be an amazing writer or anything. But it’s become a goal of mine to share my love of reading with other teens. It’s important; essential, even. I want this love of mine to spread like a plague. Too many teens are spending their time watching videos of that adorable kitten on YouTube, when they could be spending their time in Middle Earth. So if you like this post, pass it on. Let’s see if we can make a difference in the teenage community.

Reading is a marvelous thing. Odds are, if you’re on this blog, reading this post, you’re probably a fan of this whole reading thing. But maybe you aren’t, in which case I ask that you please, please, read on.
My story when it comes to reading is actually pretty similar to many others my age. This passion began when I was nine years old. Before, I had had no interest whatsoever in extracurricular reading. 
“What, you want me to read? Pages? With words on them? No colors, pictures, anything to keep my attention for more than a couple seconds? Are you kidding me?”
But of course, there came a point when this immaturely nonsensical opinion faded away; this was the day I began to read the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. 
Ah, yes. No uniqueness here. And you know what? I wouldn’t want it that way. There’s a reason why those books are the most successful book series in history: They rescued children and teens all over the world from their self-administered illiterate funk. It was a revolution of sorts, one that this world needs to see repeated. 
Oh, yeah. That’s where this post is going. Y’all are all about to receive a lesson from a sixteen-year-old. Hold onto your seats. 
I have so many problems with my generation of people. One of the biggest reasons: the preconceived notion that reading is boring.
Like… seriously guys?
Really?
Why is this even a thing in our world?
”Why spend weeks reading the book when I can just watch the movie in two hours?”
“Books just don’t hold my attention like other sources of entertainment do.”
“Reading is for nerds anyways!”

Okay, sure, those examples went from passive to belligerent pretty quickly. But, seriously. I have never known such joy as when I spend hours upon hours reading a good book, drinking caffeinated beverages late into the night to keep myself up, just so that I can see what happens next.
In all seriousness though, I believe something changes inside of you when you read a good book. For example, say I’m reading something more classic, a Tolkien book for instance. I actually notice my vocabulary change for a short period of time, becoming more like what is used in the book I just read. Or say I read a mystery, something where the characters use rather intelligent methods of deduction to solve the puzzle, I will start to think more like those characters, using tricks that they used to notice things in the world around me that I wouldn’t normally notice.
Kinda like that thing that happens to you right after you’ve finished watching a bunch of Sherlock and you just want to be smarter.
Sherlock. The TV show. Not really helping my case here…
Okay, so the point I’m trying to make is that something changes in your mind after reading a good book.
Some books have even been known to change the way people think permanently. Not wanting to get religious here, but take the Bible as an example. You will hear accounts from people all over the world, stating that reading the Bible has changed their complete mindset. Accounts like this come from Christians, Atheists, Hindus, you name it. Whether you believe it’s God’s word or just another book is beside the point. The point is that it is a written word that has changed lives indefinitely.
But maybe this is too common of an example. How about something more relevant to the teen reading audience? Nearly everyone I meet who has read a book by John Green has told me about how his writings have changed their opinions on an abundance of Katherine’s – err – subjects. His philosophically poetic writing style has gained his work a massive following. And here’s the question to be asked: How many people gained a love for reading through his books?
Maybe you need another example. I’m going to delve into a dark corner of teenage literature for this one. This is a book that many would like to forget ever existed, but one that must be mentioned, for the sake of this blog post. You probably know where I’m going here.
How did Twilight affect teen reading?
No, seriously. Whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit that many people (teenage girls mostly, but there are exceptions) now call themselves “readers” because of this saga. My sister can count herself as one of those, and she is not alone. Those books had a huge impact on reading teens, and through all of her success, I think that’s what Stephanie Meyer should be the most proud of.
Gonna get a bit corny here, but I honestly believe that reading can be nothing short of magical. I’m being completely serious here. Maybe you think reading is boring, or nerdy, or just not right for you. That’s okay. Here’s all I ask. Find your style. What do you like to read? Maybe you’re a dude who gets bored unless he’s reading some mushy romance novel. That’s okay. Something you have to understand is that, while some books are aimed towards guys, some towards girls, some towards middle graders, and some towards adults, you just have to find what you love. Find what interests you. Don’t just take every book your friend recommends for you and base your opinions of reading on that. Take a trip to your local library and really take a look around. There’s nothing wrong with spending an hour looking through those bookshelves. That’s why they’re there. Me, I’ve always leaned towards the fantasy/sci-fi category. But every now and then, I love me a good mystery. Heck, I’ll do a romance novel from time to time.
Find something that interests you, and stick with that.
The same advice can go if you’re finding yourself getting bored of reading. Try a different genre, maybe your interest will spark back up.


At the end of the day, reading is a big deal. Sure, a lot of teens don’t like it. But I’ve taken it as a sort of mission to lessen those numbers. I can’t even tell you how many books I have loaned out to friends at the moment; I’ve become something like a private library to these people. And you know what? I love it. Because honestly, if you don’t take advantage of all the reading material around you, you don’t know what you’re missing. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
Okay, maybe you’re not a fan of tea. But really, if you just give reading a chance, a real chance, there will come a point where you find a book that you wish will never end. So much can be found in the pages of good literature. Dreams can be lived; friendships can be made; romance can be discovered and rediscovered. Villains are fought, battles are won. You can see the beginning of the universe, then watch as it all runs out; no time, no space, just you and your book. And you can do all of this without getting up off of your couch. For the life of me, I simply cannot fathom why this isn’t just the most attractive thing in the world for everybody.
Maybe I’m being a little bit too biased in this post. But I have a good excuse: I’m trying to help you.
Give reading a chance. You will thank me.



6 comments:

  1. I love this post. Thank you for writing it. :)

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  2. I couldn't agree more. So many of my peers don't see how much fun it is to hang out at the library all day and look through all the books. I hope they see your post and give experimenting with different genres a try.

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  3. Amazing post! People just don't understand how I can stand to be in a library for hours on end, just trying out new books! Or how I can possibly read 150 books in a year.

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