Mansfield Opinion

Make reading a resolution

Do you remember the first words you ever read? Like, the first time you understood what those squiggly lines on the paper meant?

I do -- “See Spot.”

I grew up in the time of the Dick and Jane books, not particularly interesting reading (all they seemed to do was see things and run), but they got the job done.

As soon as I proved I could read, I qualified for a library card. This was big. My mom took me to the library at least once a week, a magical place with dusty shelves and stacks of books reaching far over my head. I still remember how that library smelled. I wasn’t allowed to have my own card until I could read.

Finally I had something to put in my purse besides chapstick.

In the 45 years since then, my purse has held everything from half a peanut butter sandwich to a pair of cleats (at the same time, neither mine), but I’ve always had a library card.

I’ve read for school, work, stories to my kids, book club, travel guides and a lot just because I wanted. My favorites are historicals and biographies, but I’m pretty much open to about anything from comic books and cereal boxes to mysteries and classics. The only genre that is tough for me to read is horror. I’ve tried it, but I didn’t like it.

In November, a Pew Research Center survey found that 25 percent of American adults haven’t read a book in the past year and almost 20 percent haven’t even been in a library or book mobile in the past 12 months. The percentages are even greater for Americans over age 50, Hispanics and people in rural areas.

What the heck? If you take out all the students who have to read for school and people who have to read for work, how many does that leave who read for pleasure?

Do you? When was the last time you picked up a book and lost track of time? When you got so absorbed that you read all night because you had to know how it ended?

Do you remember reading your favorite book for the first time? Wouldn’t you like to find another book like that?

It’s the first week of the a new year, hopefully a better year than the last one. Time to make resolutions.

Why not resolve to read again, to read for pleasure? And if you are already a regular reader, to read something new, something that you wouldn’t normally read.

Pick up a classic that you have never read. Try science fiction, non-fiction, a big fat historical novel or a book of poetry.

Why? Reading for pleasure has been shown to help with literacy, social skills and health, and that people who read more earn more money.

And that pretty much covers all of my other New Year’s resolutions.