One thing I have done since I was a young’un was read. I remember back in the day when we lived in the city there was a library one block from my house and my mom trusted me enough to let start going there myself around 5th grade or so. Nothing brought me greater joy than finding a good book and sitting down to read it from cover to cover. I remember some of the heroes of my childhood to this day; Danny Dunn, Encyclopedia Brown, Mad Scientists Club, ring a bell for anyone? I read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and then discovered my real love…biographies.
I have read some pretty diverse biographies, from Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Alexander Hamilton, Sir Isaac Newton, John D. Rockefeller and Stephen Hawking to name just a few. I always found it fascinating to read about intellectual giants and people who have had a profound effect on mankind.
Reading has given me the career I have today and almost all of the knowledge I have in my tiny little brain. I never did graduate from college, I only went as far as high school (I am rectifying that now by getting my associates degree in a few months – 2 classes to go WOOT!). Having just a high school diploma never held me back, my voracious appetite for learning helped me to show the people I needed to that in my case that framed piece of paper was optional.
One thing I would encourage parents to do it to read to their kids at a young age and encourage them to pick up books on their own and read. Reading is a skill, you get better as you do it, you comprehend more as you get better, your vocabulary increase as you comprehend more. In this case there is no substitute for “doing it”.
I also encourage people to read some non-fiction. I have nothing against fiction; you certainly can develop your reading skills reading fiction, as well as obtain enjoyment from reading fiction. The real learning happens when you pick up non-fiction books; the book could be a manual, how-to book, biography, history book, or whatever. These nuggets of knowledge are the types of books that will provide you with "smarts" that can be carried around in your noggin for the rest of your life.
From the survival perspective I can assure you; good information can be obtained by reading. My wife and I can food and make jams and preserves, all of which we learned to do reading books. All of my knowledge of gardening has been obtained by reading first, then doing. I read about planting and growing tomatoes, and then I went out there and got my hands dirty with my new found knowledge. Almost anything can be first learned about by finding a good book on the subject; it certainly does not replace hands on experience but can get you pointed in the right direction. I would never even imagine doing something "new" without first at least reading a bit about the subject. I can assure you, my love affair with reading is ongoing and my appetite for knowledge has yet to be satiated.
One way to begin the love affair with reading is to set aside some time everyday to do it. Some people like to read before they go to sleep, some people like to read in an easy chair after dinner, whatever your poison, try and develop a schedule and stick to it as much as you can. Soon you will find that when you miss your reading sessions it starts to feel like you are missing out of something important. Reading quickly becomes “your time” and you will begin to crave more and more…trust me.
Start this whole process by visiting your local library and getting a library card if you don’t have one already. Take your family on a Saturday to the library and have everyone pick out their “book of the week”. Set aside family time so everyone sits down and reads for a while together. You will soon see a change in your kids; they may even put down the video game controller for a little while, and who knows? Maybe some improvements in the grade department will follow soon after.
...that is all.