by John Ellis
It’s not easy to admit that you’ve been wrong; especially when you’ve spent years passionately promoting a position that after further consideration turns out to be detrimental to your children. Over the entirety of our kids’ lives, my wife and I have plied them with countless books, encouraging them to read. To make matters worse, the walls of their bedrooms are covered with bookshelves that are filled with books. The librarians at many of the library branches in our county know our children on sight. Our poor kids have been unable to escape books. Sadly, though, it turns out that we’ve done our children a disservice. But, no more. For their own good, our children will no longer to be allowed to read books.
As I began thinking about it, I reflected back on my own interaction with books when I was a child. For starters, reading was bad for my emotional state and taught me to mistrust my parents, long-suffering souls who didn’t deserve my ungrateful, rebellious, book-driven mistrust.
While in fourth grade, I read a book about volcanoes. The book was about the eruption of a real volcano, but opened with a fictional story about a little boy working on a farm. One day, while working in the fields, this little boy noticed that the ground was warm. He didn’t think much about it, but the next day, the ground was a little warmer. In a few days, the ground has passed warm and crossed into uncomfortably warm if not just plain hot. Concerned, the little boy alerted his parents. They laughingly dismissed his concern.
Well, a few days later, that little boy and his family died when the new volcano split the ground open under their little farm and coated them with hot lava.
I read that story, which was intended to teach me about how volcanoes develop, but, instead, I learned a different lesson. You see, I lived in Florida.
The next time I was outside after reading the story, I felt the ground. It was positively hot. Like the little boy in the story, I was concerned. Unlike the little boy in the story, I knew the end of the story.
Like the little boy’s parents, my parents dismissed my deep concern with chuckles and a pat on the head. “No!” I insisted, “There is a volcano under our house that is going to erupt soon. I learned that from a book.” My parents chuckled a little harder. In fact, some people might describe their “chuckling” as scoffing laughter.
As the new summer continued, the ground didn’t get any cooler; in fact, it seemed to be getting hotter. At night, I would cover my head with my sheet, hoping that when the volcano did split the ground open under our house, it would do so under my sisters’ bedroom first. Their screams would warn me, providing me the chance to run to safety.
Eventually, the ground cooled off, and after reading a story about a pirate who had to use a hook for a hand thanks to a crocodile, my worry about volcanoes began to be directed towards the Florida swamps behind our house.
Reading books turned my childhood into maze of various traumas. Being compelled against my will to look for buried treasure while keeping a fearful eye out for evil smugglers, worrying that a time-traveler was going to force me to go back in time and help him capture a dinosaur, and the belief that there was a great likelihood that I would end up trapped inside of a cave with nothing but my Swiss Army Knife and some granola bars were all fears that were unduly wrought by my harmful reading habit.
Reading books very likely has an impact on children. From here on out, I pledge that my children will not have to suffer the fate that I suffered as a child. Once I discuss this with my wife (and I’m sure she’ll agree), we will permanently discard all of our kids’ books by burning them in the backyard. Library cards will be shredded. For their own good, my children will be barred from reading. If you love your kids, I highly urge you to consider doing likewise.
Hi, I am Infinity, John Ellis’ daughter. He only wrote this article because he’s losing in a book reading contest that we’re doing. He’s also afraid that if I read a lot of books, I’ll be smarter than him. That will probably be true.