...Every time I see a young person with a book. It happened again the other day. We were out having coffee, surrounded by teens and tweens (who all have too much money – but let me not get on that soapbox just now). One boy made us do a double take. He had a copy of The Hungry Tide on his table. I almost rushed to him and shook his hands excitedly for the following reasons:
1. A young person reading a book?
2. A book that's not a cel phone manual or about self-help?
3. And, of all authors, Amitav Ghosh?!!?
(Is anyone else alarmed by the shrill note of hysteria in my voice?)
Why is it so rare to see young people reading today? Why do 19-year-olds consider Harry Potter the height of intellectual accomplishment? There are rare exceptions – like my niece who lives in Canada and wolfs down books. But most other young people we know seem allergic to reading. Luckily, the current crop of under-12s – thanks to their parents' cajoling – seem to be reading a lot more.
What alarms me is that in 20 years’ time all the important jobs, across all professions, will be headed by people whose youthful reading peaked at Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul… Meanwhile, I shall cheer myself up thinking of that Lone Reader and his interest in Amitav Ghosh. And I’m going to ignore the voice in my head which says he might have been carrying it around for a cantankerous aunt!