When Writing is Lost

Probably the real headline for this story should be “When children don’t learn about our cultural history,” but that’s really long!

The sad story I’m sharing is that during my days as a reporter, I covered every beat. When it was time to interview the high school valedictorian, we met for a delightful chat at the local ice cream parlor.  (So far, this is not the sad story.)

With a professed love of writing, the valedictorian was happy to share her reading experiences.  Since she loved reading, I asked her who she considered good and she liked to read. She answered, “John Grisham.”

I asked her for more names.  She was drawing a blank, so I asked if she liked Mark Twain.  Her reaction was another blank stare.  She did not know one of the foremost writers of our country.

Honestly, she had no idea who Mark Twain was.  The schools had never given her the chance to read Twain’s works.  Besides knowing that was a great pity, the implications of her not having read Twain’s books or writings tells me:

  • Whoever chose the curriculum was misguided, perhaps operating under a weird sense of what they perceived as political correctness.
  • This young scholar does not have the sense of or experience with great writing – no offense to John Grisham.  I’ve ready many of his books.
  • She has lost a cultural opportunity that probably will never be recovered.  The evocative scenes and characters of Twain’s writings are not part of her heritage.
  • What was her school and the adults who decided what she could read giving her to read instead?  I’m worried.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox.

However, years ago when I always gave packages of books as baby gifts, I presented such a gift to a family friend.  The mom-to-be’s face fell -she disguised her look quickly, but I could tell – and she was clearly not excited to receive a children’s book library for her child.

That was a household where not a book could be seen about. No bookcases. I was sad.

Save the book!  And, I don’t care if it’s an e-book or a printed book or an audio book.

ALERT: Literary reference!

Have we come to Fahrenheit 451, but don’t even need to burn the books?

Please comment and let me know what you’re reading.

Extra bonus points for naming the author of Fahrenheit 451 and a book by Mark Twain!

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