Don’t lose a generation to books!

By: April 30, 2011

I love books. I am the product of generations of book lovers on both sides of my family. My grandmothers were surrounded by books. I can remember one grandmother moving down the “new book” shelves at the library shoveling them back at me without looking back, until I had them stacked to my chin. I still give books to my mother on special occasions and she returns the favor to me. I love the look of books. I love the feel of a book in my hands. I love libraries and bookstores. I have become the family librarian, and have filled our home with books. I have even become the lending library for our local Tea Party group.

Sadly, I may be the last generation book lover in my family. My young adult and teen sons do not have my love for books or an attention span for most books. They live in an “on demand” world with instant access to movies, social media, and a “WikiWorld” of information. All sorts of media are available on iPhones, Droids, and iPads-instantaneously, with wide ranging, portable, broadband access. They live in a world of images, video and sparse written words.

What hope is there that my sons will ever read a two pound tome like Atlas Shrugged and learn the power of the individual? Will they pick up a thick, but powerful book like George Washington’s Sacred Fire to learn the true, spiritual history of our country? How will they know of Frederick Douglass’ My Bondage and Freedom or Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy?

There is hope. My young adult sons love movies, and some of these great works are amenable to film. The movie Atlas Shrugged is bringing a great story to many who had not been previously exposed to Ayn Rand, and has stimulated a new flurry of book sales. However, not all of the great classic or new books are suitable for the big or little screen. Not to mention, it is hard to put aside a movie, bookmark it, and pick it up later.

There is a way to get great stories and ideas into the hands of this generation, and it is imperative that we do so. After all, we are (always) only one generation away from losing our freedom. There is no time to waste. There is no mind to waste.

My sons are addicted to graphic novels, the only “books” that seem to get into their hands or brains. In her recent book, Don’t Take My Lemonade Stand, Janie Johnson is ingenius with her use of graphics. Written to answer the question her child asked,  “How do I know who to vote for?”, she designed a book for adults and their kids, to learn about the principles of freedom and free enterprise on which our country was built. How did she do it? In part, by incorporating attractive, comic book-like drawings to illustrate the key principles in the book. Another groundbreaking book is Daniel Pink’s The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, which was named “An American Library Association Best Graphic Novel for Teens!” It is “America’s first business book in the Japanese comic format known as manga – and the last career guide you’ll ever need.”

I believe that if Broadside Books were to combine the portability and accessibility of an e-book with the sharp, colorful and attractive style of a graphic novel, and use great stories and ideas, they would have a massive audience for these e-books and the opportunity to change for better the generation that is now coming of age.

We need this generation. We don’t need a lost generation.

Vann Schaffner is a physician from Spokane, Washington. He was an early member of Top Conservatives on Twitter, and is one of the leaders of his local tea party group.

Tagged as: books,  Vann Schaffner

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