See Joe’s email.
See an email from his Mom asking where the new folklore column
See Joe tear his hair out.
Tear, Joe, tear.
Or to put it another way, it was probably about a year and a half
ago when a certain doting grandmother (who moonlights as owner
of a used bookstore we all know and love) bought a complete set
of "Dick and Jane" books for my daughter Clara.
the time we decided to put them away on a shelf, as Clara, being
just three, was not quite ready to be plowing through them yet,
and we didn't want the pages to be ripped to pieces prematurely.
away they went. Fast forward to a week or so ago. I am reading
to Clara, as I always do, and she will have it no other way. As
a matter of fact, for as long as I can recall she has refused
to go to bed until she has had at least one book read to her.
this occasion, I notice that she is not letting me turn the pages
quite as rapidly as usual, studying each for a minute or so before
allowing me to continue. Finally I ask her what she is doing,
and she explains, "I wanted to make sure you were reading
the real words."
subsequently tested her on random words, and became fairly convinced
that she was, to some extent, actually reading, and was in addition
managing to keep that little feat a secret. We knew she had been
following along for some time, and she would on occasion go so
far as to recite some of the words, but we had attributed most
of it to memory. Now, we were not so sure.
fell to my brilliant wife to conduct the ultimate test.
you see, Clara had still never been properly introduced to Dick
random book was selected, a random page was turned to, and little
Clara promptly began to read to her mother.
a couple of days later, to a very proud doting grandmother.
suddenly things have changed around here. Clara has the freedom
to watch TV (within reason) and to play interactive games (within
reason) on her mother's iPad. As a matter of fact, she can even
read interactive "ebooks" on the iPad, which is what
we had pretty much assumed she would gravitate to when she began
reading in earnest. And of course, she has her toys.
yet, as often as not, things will suddenly become very quiet of
an afternoon, till we go running to see what the matter is--
there she'll be, either standing in front of her bookshelf, looking
for the perfect book to read, or sprawled upon her bed, indulging
in that most magical of new (for her) discoveries: the world of
if this little tale, all of it true, represents in microcosm a
possible future for us all, then perhaps the world is in better
shape than we dared to hope, and perhaps the demise of the book
is not as near as we once feared.