To the editor:
Re: "Dreck the halls," Dec. 14.
Wondering whether Dreck the Halls, as funny as it purports to be, is a waste of good newspaper space. OK, I laughed at the cat unicorn thing. But I worry about promoting dumbed-down books even in jest. "Who has the time to read Moby-Dick...?" Indeed, who has the time to work at some awful job and pay taxes on the money and then buy such a dumb thing as the stuffed Moby-Dick toy book? An actual copy of the novel by Herman Melville is a much better use of resources (both the money to buy it and the time it takes to read it). Maybe that's your message, of course, but some people are going to like the dumb approach and you, the Courier, unwittingly perhaps have contributed to the demise of your own medium, reading.
An actual copy of Moby-Dick provides at least 135 evenings of reading one chapter a night, of time spent with your child, reading, and discussing vocabulary, word choice, alliteration and other poetic devices, and symbolism and the meaning of things (as you mention), and calming the kid down to sleep by the very lilt of the language. Yes, I did find the time to read Moby-Dick aloud to my 10-year old, and it did hold his attention for the half-year or so it took to read him his bedtime story.
Now that kid is an engineer with a good job, partly because his brain is capable of sustaining meaning through a long sentence or series of long sentences and capable of understanding complex sequences of computer code, computer language, and sustained thought. I don't think a kid raised on twitter-length books is going to get how to do those things because their grasp of English is too poor.
As a tutor of neighbourhood children still struggling to read and write adequately in elementary and secondary school, I am appalled at the lack of reading aloud they have been exposed to, and their lack of ability to comprehend literature. Please don't perpetuate this mistake, even by making fun of it. These kids might not even understand your headline's allusion to "Deck the Halls" and they most certainly wouldn't get the joke in "Dreck the Halls." Why not? Because looking up words in a dictionary or online is considered too time-consuming, and reading newspapers is considered a waste of time. Who even has the time to read the Courier?
Please use more of the paper to promote literacy. Or go ahead and keep shooting newspapers in the foot.
Jennifer Getsinger, Vancouver
© Copyright 2013