Reading should be encouraged, not condemned

What have we come to as a society when we look down on kids who love to read?

According to several reports (some going back to August… wish I wasn’t so late to this party), that’s exactly what happened in Hudson Falls, New York, where a local librarian was fired, supposedly over defending, and wanting to applaud, a young boy who read 63 books over the course of a six week period to help solidify his win (for the fifth(!) year in a row) in a reading contest held by the Hudson Falls Free Library.

Instead of helping to praise his enthusiasm and love for the written word, the library director, Marie Gandron, told a local paper that this ardent reader, Tyler Weaver, was hogging the spotlight and should be banned from participating. Are you serious? Aren’t librarians, teachers and the administrations of such institutions supposed to encourage this type of behavior? According to what happened, apparently not, since for them it’s much better to water down the contest to make it more “fair” for the other kids. You know what I have to say to that? The teachers and administrators should be supporting Tyler, encouraging all the other kids to try harder if they want to win. No one should be punishing Tyler for having a passion to read.

In my book, the librarian that lauded young Tyler’s reading pleasure (and subsequently fired), Lita Casey, should also be commended, not just for believing what Tyler did was impressive, but because she has worked for the Hudson Falls Free Library for 28 years. That type of dedication to helping and encouraging young kids to want to read is to be admired, not condemned.

Reading not only helps kids grow intellectually, and push them to continue to learn, it activates their imagination in a way movies, television and the Internet just can’t do. And as the closing down of libraries and the dumbing down of activities to the point where the weakest in a particular group is the most respected continues to become the trend of the new generation, it’s becoming more apparent that no one wants to help, or inspire, anyone to succeed anymore. For this kid to excel in reading, and then be told he shouldn’t do it anymore because it “might” upset the other kids, all he hears is that he’s doing something wrong and that he shouldn’t try as hard. To me, that is a horrible precedent to send to anyone, much less a nine-year-old. Just getting by shouldn’t be good enough.

What does it say when all we have left to aspire to is mediocrity?

It simply means we become weaker as a community and as a nation. When our kids aren’t pushed to strive for greatness in everything they do, we are no longer equipped to respond to those who are stronger or more successful. Because of that, we have a tendency to give up a lot quicker, suppressing our ability to push ourselves to find new, fresh ideas, making us constantly have to rely on others. Is it just me, or is there something wrong with that?

To Tyler Weaver, I have to say: You truly do inspire me to want to read more. Never stop reading, and never let anyone discourage you from doing so.

And that goes for the rest of us, in anything we love to do.

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