Tuesday, January 14, 2003

JUST SAY NO TO READING.

The mom walks into her small child's room, "I'm so proud of your reading Johnny." "Thanks mom," the son replies through a smile. "Well son, put your book away. It is time for you to sleep," said the mom while kissing her son goodnight. The child growled and screamed, "No! You can't take my book away! I don't want to stop reading, and everyone else is doing it anyway." With a tear and a sigh, the mother resigns, letting the child continue on with its self-destructive reading habits.

The events described above plague millions of parents everynight. Sure, expensive ad campaigns make it seem nice, but is your child being hooked on phonics really a blessing? To many, it is a curse. "We've tried everything from cold turkey to 12 step Phonitrol patches," confessed a mother who wishes to remain anonymous, "but nothing works. My daughter is in college and we just caught her pawning her text books for more Reading Skill Development Products."

Selma Kellis, senior research analyst at the Center for Reading Control, says there is nothing to worry about, "There is absolutely no concrete evidence that RSDPs have any adverse effects on people. We've been testing them on lab mice for years; no addiction was observed." Leonard McPhygus, chairperson of Parents Against Reading Aids, responded, "Dude, rats can't even read. Their research is pointless; it's insanedonculous." Kellis rebutted, "The last time that I checked, insanedonculous isn't a word. Don't listen to a word PARA says; it's all lies. Besides, the exposure to RSDPs isn't all of the experiment. Sometimes we shock or throw things at the mice, and sometimes we let the janitor play with them. He can't read either."

Although RSDPs may or may not be addictive, or even bad for you, it is important to understand the social pressures surrounding and causing children to use these products. "I do it for acceptance. I wasn't really peer pressured, per se, so much as people just didn't talk to me when they found out I couldn't read. I got left out of a lot of activities, such as reading things," explained one high school student, "Now, I go through a Super-Reader pack every day." This requirement for acceptance has even infiltrated public school functions; certain book clubs completely excluded children who choose not to learn how to read. A certain book club sponsor denied this accusation, "That's absurd. We don't tell anyone they can't be in our club. It just happens that kids who don't like reading don't want to be in our book clubs. It's not like we're elitist or anything like that."

Fortunately, stricter rules are making it easier for children who don't want to read just to remain fashionable. The president of one high school's anti-reading protest group was expelled from the group after a scandal revealing that he read some of the works of Thoreau. "I only read for inspiration sometimes. I'm not hooked I swear. I can quit anytime I want," said the former president in his defense. Hopefully he learned his lesson. Reading is clearly becoming a problem in this nation, and it needs to stop.