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A World Without Books

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Imagine a world without books. Imagine a world without schools, libraries, or bookstores. There would be no Huckleberry Finn, Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer, or Alice in Wonderland. There would be no Dr. Seuss, Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, or Stephen King. We would not have our weekly book clubs. Children would have no bedtime stories. What kind of world would we live in without books? Would we even learn how to read? How would we express ourselves or communicate with each other? It is hard to imagine.

However, for some people in our society today this is a harsh reality. Recent studies show that there is a startling decline in how much and how well people are reading (Neary). “Americans are reading fewer books today than in the past,” states Eric Weiner of NPR News. “A poll released…by the Associated Press and Ipsos, a market-research firm, found that the typical American read only four books last year, and one in four adults read no books at all. Book sales have been flat in recent years and are expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future.” More and more people are tuned in to the television or the internet and not opening a book. Poor people, homeless people, small libraries, and even many schools are finding it more difficult to gain access to books due to lack of money, time, and interest.

One has to wonder what this new generation of non-readers is going to lend to the future of our society. Without reading, what will they do? Who will they be? How will the find an escape from the hard realities of life? How will they continue to learn and be enlightened? People who do not read are more likely to do unfavorably on tests and are usually unemployed. It not only impacts academic performance, but also impacts economic performance (Neary). These people will eventually have an enormous impact on the future of our society.

We can all do our part to encourage those who have not experienced the joy of picking up a book. Book clubs are good way for people to gather and discuss books they have just read.

Donna Kelly, an outreach nurse in Cleveland, has started her own book club at 2100 Lakeside Men’s Shelter. Kelly began the club last fall after taking notice to how many homeless men brought books with them to the health clinic she helped run at the shelter.

She found that when she talked to them about the books they were reading, they seemed to trust her more. They talked more freely to her about drugs, abuse, and other things they may not have told her otherwise. And the fervor is catching. A new club has also started at Joseph’s Home, a shelter for homeless men who have recently been discharged from hospitals or have serious health problems. And Kelly is working on starting another one for homeless women and children. (Marino 1-2).

Another excellent way to encourage people to read is through donations. Many programs, such as Donna Kelly’s, would not be possible without those who donate their old books to worthy causes. In 2006, in Hong Kong, a charity sale of donated books attracted 30,000 people and sold 225,000 books. The sale is aimed “at promoting reading, book recycling, and charity” (Books).




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