I continue to research information regarding the Great Library of Alexandria for a novel I am writing. As I read books to educate myself, my mind wanders to television programs and movies I have seen over the years, which are set in prehistoric times. We will so often set these stories to parallel our own culture. They dress, go to work, have homes resembling the way we live today, etc. The one element that is foremost in my thoughts is their ability to read.
In prehistoric times, a couple or three millennia ago, only the very wealthy and royalty could read. The only ones of lesser rank, so to speak, who could read were scribes and religious leaders. First, many kings, pharaohs and other governing heads would keep their subjects in check by keeping them uneducated. They feared that if the common people could read, they would rise up and overthrow them.
Second, it was very expensive to read and write back then. This especially holds true for religious materials. It was a long and expensive process to make ‘paper’ to write on and use for publishing books. Scribes were able to read and write and many were bilingual. They would sit for hours every day copying manuscripts, books and documents onto other scrolls to be used elsewhere. If they made a mistake, they would have to start all over. The scroll was one long piece and there was no backspace nor delete button. Neither was there any whiteout. All of this especially held true with regard to religious books. These had to be perfection.
We take for granted today, the fine art of reading and writing. It is just something we are taught at an early age. There are no gods, or kings, or pharaohs, or presidents who will kill us or have us imprisoned for being able to read and write. When something is this easily obtained, we do not have regard for the efforts put forth to allow this freedom. Yes, I said ‘freedom’. We see many young people today who would prefer to sit amidst their peers and play games on their mobile phones and tablets instead of improving their minds and enjoying the wonders at their fingertips which can only be obtained within the pages of a book.
Let me give a brief side note here. While I do prefer having a physical book in my hands and feeling the texture of the pages as I turn to continue my journey through each volume, I also embrace the electronic generation of the tablets. You can fit far more books on a tablet than you are able to carry around with you if you held each book in hand. This, too, is an excellent way to get lost within a book.
The millennium generation is learning to read because they have to read in order to graduate from high school and perhaps obtain employment in their future. Gone is the time when children and adolescents are encouraged to read for pleasure.
Here in East Tennessee, Dolly Parton began a program in 1995 called Imagination Library. When a baby is born, a book a year, age appropriate, is sent to the child until his fifth birthday. This is meant to spark the imagination of the child and help them develop a healthy view of reading and grow a strong imagination. All children, everywhere, should be encouraged in this manner.
Educated people make better citizens. We are able to see the facts and not blindly accept what we are told. We can then convey this truth to those that come after us.
When I was a nanny/babysitter, I loved spending time with the little ones and reading to them before tucking them into bed. Not only was I attempting to teach them through the stories I read from Hans Christian Anderson, but I was also hoping this would continue into a life-long love for reading for each child. Something they could continue with their own families when they grew up.
As a society, for the most part, we no longer engage in active oral history. We are also lapsing in teaching the love of reading to broaden our minds and expand our imaginations. We have evolved into a de-evolution. In other words, we are going backward. We are regressing to a time when the common citizen is unlearned and ill-educated. We need to stand up by sitting down with a good book and losing ourselves within the world created by those who came before. Read to your children and as they grow, read with them. Teach them to read and speak the truth, then in turn, pass it down to their children.
I am a writer. I am also a reader. I read to improve my mind and stimulate my imagination for use in my writing. I write to share my heart in books with the hope that others will lose themselves in the pages and grow.