We all know that books with pictures tend to qualify as “easy-readers”. I remember when my mother, an English-teacher, forbade me from reading anything that had an excess of pictures, less than 300 pages, or font larger than a pencil’s eraser. At the time, I was sure that this was just another element of my mother’s plot to limit my childhood enjoyment. Even though she claimed that “real books” were the only way to allow my own ideas to form, I was convinced that she just didn’t believe in the fundamentals of being a kid.
Ironically, now, 26 years later, I am able to recognize that my mother was enforcing the fundamentals of being a kid, which of course I knew nothing about at the time. She was not holding me back from enjoying my childhood, but was equipping me with abilities to think outside of the box. Reading seemed to be anything but fun, but now I realize that fun doesn’t always have to be easy. Pretty pictures, magnified words, and paper-thin paperbacks make reading (and comprehending) easy, but certainly not memorable. Now, as an adult, I love what I used to despise because of my mom’s strict reading policies. In a general sense, my mom isn’t opposed to television or picture books, but she is opposed to anything that could hinder the ability to exercise the best part of childhood: imagination.
Chapter 6 emphasizes that the mass market press expanded as a reaction to the drastic increase in advertising revenue (107). Consequently, “readership increased because of the rising literacy and economic levels (107). This statement prompted me to wonder if readership has decreased in our modern-day society; economic levels certainly have, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that literacy levels have, as well.
Target News, a composite of Reuters, offers pre-selected topics, videos, and News Graphics, which “provides informative graphic elements that explain concepts behind the news” (114). I thought back to the countless number of times in which my mom explained how television is an intellectual cop-out; television and easy-readers told you how you should perceive the appearance, vocal qualities, and habits of the characters depicted. Real books force you to utilize your own mind in conjunction with the text to formulate your own perception. With that in mind, does the news really need to be explained with pictures? Are adults actually incapable of firing off the necessary synapses to connect the dots of a reported story?
I realize that the Internet will vastly improve global communication flow, for it already has. Furthermore, more people will be able to access ideas, news, and resources to facilitate a higher cultural awareness, worldwide. Admittedly, I don’t know what I would do without Winthrop’s Dacus Library online database, the New York Times online, or even Google, for that matter. However, my ability to formulate ideas, my methods for approaching research, and my techniques for writing academic papers, truly, have nothing to do with the Internet or all of the ways in which I use it.
Perhaps I got lost in yet another, pro-literacy tangent, but I do believe this chapter raises several important issues. The notion of the Internet serving to handicap future generations of learners, while unpopular, is certainly plausible. Amidst the hype of globalizing internet access, and efforts towards creating a democratic flow of information to all countries, I can only hope that credibility and hard work, are recognized as valuable skills for one to embody.