Archive for Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Shouts and Murmurs

The future of reading lives on

August 18, 2004

Last month's news from the National Endowment of the Arts was that fewer than 50 percent of adult Americans read literature today.

It's easy to imagine in the future, with the overwhelming availability of television shows, movies and video games sopping up our time, that the number of adults who read literature will continue its downward slide.

So I was heartened last week when taking newspapers to the recycling bins by the school. Two young teen boys were sifting through the material in the bins, looking for something to read.

Granted the library is just blocks away, but clearly, the boys were in the mood for discovery. They were looking for science fiction books. And while we visited, they kindly helped me unload the boxes of newspapers from my car.

During the summer, I've connected with other teen readers. A recent stop at a restaurant in the middle of the afternoon found a teenager reading a novel. She told me about the book and I bought (and read) my own copy a couple days later. Just this week, the college-bound teen e-mailed to tell me about another good book she's reading, and I'll likely pick up a copy of that, as well.

It's funny how a book is a conversation starter. For instance at Sonic one day, a carhop (another recent grad of Tonganoxie High School) asked me what I was reading. A couple weeks after I loaned her the book, she returned it -- along with a two-page summary she wrote.

These teens give hope for the future of recreational reading. They love to read and share what they know about what they read. If they are but a sampling of American population, bookstores and libraries -- in the sale of and checkout of books both old and new -- in the future will continue to prosper.

vvv

Readers may recall my recent story about a homeless, wounded cat found behind The Mirror office. The cat, whom we fondly refer to as "Pulitzer," came with a surprise. Although we didn't know it at the time, she was pregnant.

Since the end of June she has lived at my house.

Last Friday, Pulitzer welcomed five kittens into the world. One of them, born without a tail, has been promised to my parents, who years ago had a manx cat they adored. But in about two months the four remaining kittens will be needing kind and loving homes of their own.

Please let me know if you're interested in a Pulitzer surprise kitten. And rest assured, this will not be an ongoing kitty mill. There are far too many unwanted animals in the world already. Pulitzer will be spayed as soon as it's safe for her and her kittens.

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