Would it be too much to hope that people will read more books in 2008? Perhaps that’s a wish within reach.
The upcoming Minneapolis-Hennepin County library merger (look to MinnPost.com for the latest news on the merger in the coming weeks) offers some hope that fewer people will encounter locked library doors in Minneapolis this year. Simply reopening the three shuttered branch libraries will make it easier for many citizens to get to books, and as for that whole “closed on Mondays” thing, let’s save it for the museums. While books might be art, they shouldn’t be untouchable.
But it might take more than open libraries to turn couch (and computer) potatoes into bookworms. It takes good books. Perhaps the television writers’ strike led a few people to read, instead of watch, stories. And if those people happened upon some really good books, they might want to read more.
After all, good books are addictive. You read one, then you want another. It certainly worked that way with the “Harry Potter” series, which compelled millions of young people to sit still with increasingly hefty tomes. When the series ended this summer, many of those readers moved on to other shelves in the library.
The so-called “Harry Potter Effect” suggests that children who followed the seven Potter books to their grand finale were profoundly shaped by the experience. (A British study found that 59 percent of children between ages 8 and 16 say they are better readers because of their Potter experience; 48 percent say those books led them to read more in general.)
So, does that mean kids will read less now that the series is done? In that case, let’s wish for another literary blockbuster that draws in all ages. Even better, this year let’s have one by a Minnesota writer.