A recent New York Times
article that a friend told me about but that I am too lazy to read reports that many classroom teachers around the nation are letting students choose their own books. No, I kid, of course — I read the article
. The kids chose a wide variety of books, such as James Patterson's Maximum Ride
books and the "Captain Underpants
" series of comic-book-style novels. On the other hand, other kids chose lowbrow fare such as A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest J. Gaines and The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison, according to the article. But at least they're reading.
Looking back on my youth, I am pretty sure if my brothers Dave and Phil had been given this option when they were students, they would have chosen Marvel Comics over DC. Left to my own devices, I, on the other hand, favored reading the Danish philosopher Sören Keirgegaard, who had the power to burn holes through solid rock with his naked eyeballs.
Obviously there are many opinions on how we should educate our children and encourage them to read. Let's start with an examination of our fundamental premise: reading is a good thing. Sure, reading makes your mind work, teaches you new skills, increases your vocabulary, makes you a better speaker and writer, expands your knowledge of the world, builds self-esteem, improves memory and reasoning skills, enhances creativity, makes you a more interesting person, and reduces stress. Yes, reading a book can be a life-changing experience.
But is this what we want for our young people? Wouldn't we rather keep them fat and docile, sitting on the couch watching episode after episode of Project Runway: the Missing Portland Episodes and eating chips? If we encourage our children to read more, there may come a time when they know more than we do. Who wants that? They will start having ideas of their own. They'll grow up and be able to take away our jobs, our power, and our money. They might even write their own books.
Of course, by now you recognize that I am being ironic. At least I hope you do. If not, then we should talk. But seriously, I think letting students choose their own books is a wonderful idea, especially if they choose the books I want them to read. I think we adults can all agree that our children should choose to read my new book, How to Play the Harmonica: And Other Life Lessons. It's got humor, sex, the true story of whether Jesus fathered a child, an ill-fated invasion of Russia, a tough-yet-sensitive detective, advice stolen directly from Deepak Chopra, and some harmonica lessons — in short, all the intellectual, spiritual, and entertainment value you could ever want. It is my sincere and humble hope that with this book, I will be able to start a new world religion, and I need the next generation on board if I am going to take over the world.