Read if you please, even if nothing else but for greed. Does $2.2 Trillion a year tickle your fancy?
Today’s episode is about Read Across America Day. Which was started in 1998 and has been held every year since on March 2, Dr. Seuss’s Birthday. 1998 also happens to be the same year I was given the a book from my third-grade teacher Mrs. Coleus, the book that really changed everything for me along my artistic creative path, Harry Potter. I will just leave it at that.
Anyway, according to the group that started this annual celebration, the National Education Association, We celebrate the books that inspire our children to dream big, expand the limits of their understanding, and explore diverse perspectives and cultures through the eyes of others.
Which is exactly what I tried to do with A Bleaceful Journey novel series. To explore diverse perspectives and cultures through the eyes of others. I really wanted the readers to see and experience something that was alien to them, yet familiar.
Starting with that first poem in the first novel,
In a foreign beings eye, we may not be fit. What is foreign to you, may not be foreign to me and vice versa. It’s about opening your mind to all of the possibilities. And reading does just that.
For this annual day, Read Across America, I looked up some startling facts about America’s literacy rate.
Gallup estimates that America’s adult literacy costs the United States $2.2 Trillion a year!
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of U.S. adults 16-74 years old – about 130 million people – lack proficiency in literacy, reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level.
Now, consider how that number represents more than half the adult U.S. population
That’s a shocking number for several reasons, and its dollars and cents implications are enormous because literacy is correlated with several important outcomes such as personal income, employment levels, health, and overall economic growth.
If all U.S. adults were able to move up to at least Level 3 of literacy proficiency, it would generate an additional $2.2 trillion in annual income for the country, equal to 10% of the GDP (gross domestic product).
The study also found that the nation’s largest metropolitan areas – including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas – would all gain at or just above 10% of their GDP by bringing all adults to a sixth grade reading level
Think about that for a second on how much money that is.
And I know when we think about illiteracy in this way doesn’t even touch all of what reading can do for a person, but for some it will be the reason that this crisis sinks in.
The benefits of literacy goes way beyond someone’s earning ability. Literacy supports social, physical and emotional well-being, and it affects everything from crime rates to hospital admissions to self-esteem.
Emotional well being.
That is where I am my writing. To get readers to face hard truths. To break that fourth wall a bit and aim my words directly at the reader, to think about their individual situation.
I am sure most want nothing to do with this episode. Those numbers just fall on deaf ears, they don’t want to hear it. Maybe those who can read, just don’t want to. Who has time to read?
It’s boring compared to scrolling through a social media timeline, watching video after video. Why would I want to look at boring words.
We are in this new age now, and it hasn’t been around long enough for us to study the long term effects, but we are seeing short term effects and they in and of themselves are pretty staggering. Shortened attention spans, leading to higher rates of anxiety and depression, unable to handle difficult situations and emotions.
In this fast paced digital age, I think it’s reading that can really help to slow reality down a bit. To stop comparing your life to the pseudo lives people live on social media, living a life they create.
Some will say, I have ADD. I can’t sit down to read. Then listen to an audiobook and follow along the words. So many today self diagnose themselves with ADD or ADHD. How many would have said that 50 years ago? It didn’t exist, and why now are doctor’s diagnosing people with it? It wouldn’t be to push new drugs would it? Creating a billion dollar industry?
I am not saying that there aren’t genuine cases of ADD or ADHD but I do think it’s gotten way out of hand at this point. I mean I go to a Twitter Space and I hear at least one person say they had ADD. It’s become this scapegoat, they don’t take responsibility for their own actions, their own action of mindlessly going on social media and endlessly scrolling for years and years, not realizing the effects it’s having on their mind and their though processing. And yes, this does lead to shortened attention span, but it’s an action they are taking and they can just as easily take other actions that will combat it and to help them with focused attention.
I would love to see more people read. The famous saying is, Get Lost in a Book. I like to say, Get Found in a Book. Find yourself in a book.Read about anything you want, that’s the beauty of reading, there’s endless number of topics out there, let them inspire you! Yes you can. Yes you can. Go to your local library, pick out a book, sit down on a nice comfortable chair and fucking read. Yes, it is that simple. No, ignore that bull shit excuse that just popped into your head as to why you can’t do that. Ignore the bull shit ass excuse, that knee jerk to turn away now and check your phone. Checking your phone has become this social blanket to warm you up against the cold awkwardness of the world. Why?
I see so many out in public, when they are just standing there, instead of just looking around their environment and taking it all in, they resort to checking their phone. Go to a Starbucks and look at the people waiting for their order, how many of them are on their phone? Go to any line, look at people now at stop lights, they immediately check their phone, then you have the ass hole behind them honking the horn telling them to go because they are completely oblivious to the world around them.
Completely oblivious. Maybe they like to be oblivious. Reality is just too harsh, it’s better to live in a computerized algorithm of their choosing. They get to choose what they post, they get to choose who they follow and what they see, they get to tell the computer what they like to see and what they don’t like to see.
Me, I like to know what goes on in this world and what humans know about the universe. I like to read about unanswered questions we have about Quantum Physics. I like to know how great minds spend their time. Being a Pi baby, that usually means trying to live as Albert Einstein lived, who spent a lot of time reading and writing. Warren Buffet spends over 90% of his day reading.
As Jim Kwick likes to say, Leaders are Readers.
If illusory money is your motive then resort to the fact that proficient readers make more money.
But I like to go further than illusory currency that only exists in our minds.
I look for emotional well being, for creative inspiration.
There are more people dead than there are living right now. And a lot of those people left words behind, I think it serves people not only in the present moment, but future generations to read and learn from them so that we can grow and progress.
What I like to read for creative purposes are books that have been made into films. That is my great passion. I love seeing that transition from written word to script to film shot, now granted it’s not always exactly as it was written, have to have an open mind, I always find it funny when fans get pissed about changes. I think the only one who has a right to get upset is the original author, if they are upset, then ok, others can support that, but fans shut the hell up, it’s rarely ever going to be exactly the way it was written, that’s just not how film works. In a book, you are only bound by your imagination, when making a film there are so many more limitations put on the medium that make it nearly impossible to replicate the book exactly.
Something I keep in mind when I go to take Bleace to the big screen. That it may not be exactly as I imagined, but given that it will be an animated film, it will be closer than it would for a live action film.
Great writing also makes for a great film, and coming back to reading, I would implore others to read the script of films that they love, it really is a great experience and you come to appreciate the actors that much more. The way they are able to take those words and transcend them, make them something more, say them in a way that no other person can say them.
The best is when you read a book, before it’s made into a movie and maybe you read the dialogue a certain way and when you see it on film and it’s delivered completely different and it blows your mind.
Films also cause me to dream, but reading really does, it penetrates the imagination in ways a film screen can’t. the characters live inside your mind, that voice inside your head as you read, the creepy characters seep in deep.
For Bleace, that character is Skriller. A wickedly sinister Matridean Beast who likes to psychologically torture his victims before mutilating them in the most mentally abusive and physically obtrusive way possible.
Here is the second poem in the book, now it’s meant to be shocking. This entire first chapter is meant to shock the reader really. It’s here to say, yea the title is Bleace, but fuck what you think that means, here is Skriller. You’re now on a free-floating planet and you have no idea yet what that means you little one-planet being.
And I read that passage for another reason, to say whatever angst you have, whatever frustration you have, get it down on paper. That is where Skriller comes from, that frustration I was feeling, of crossing that line that I wouldn’t cross in real life. Through Skriller and other characters in the novels, I was able to live limitless and yes living limitless means no laws and if there are laws they are to be disregarded. Fuck em. When I am writing I am on this free floating planet and not a single person can touch me here. I can do as I please.
Writing and reading are both equally important. I know in previous episodes and every episode really I try to push people to write, but I also want people to read. It will better your life in so many ways. This annual day, Read Across America day, the birthday of Dr. Seuss is a great reminder of this importance. And I will bring up some of these points again next month during World Book Day on April 23rd.
As an author, I know how tough it is to try and get people to read.
That is what this day is for and I say it again, it’s to inspire children to dream big, expand the limits of their understanding, and explore diverse perspectives and cultures. If their parents aren’t doing this, what do they have to look up to? It starts with the adults who will impact the next generation.
The iPad is the new digital pacifier. They just stick the iPad in front of their face, all is well, they aren’t bothering me anymore, damn the consequence, there is only here and now baby.
How socially awkward so many of these kids are now. You go to talk to them, they look at you like you’re crazy and then look to their parents to hand them their iPad so they can go on YouTube, look at quick flashing animations.
Why not hand them a book to read? Get that reading process started early?
Give them an eBook to read? Then I would say the use of the iPad would be more justified than using it to watch YouTube or anything else they do on there.
But no, this episode will fall on deaf ears. No one will care. America is not into preventative measures; they are into reactionary steps. They won’t even listen as kids are begging for their lives as they continue to experience mass shooting after mass shooting. I won’t get into that here, it’s only to put it into perspective that the priorities of the adults today in 2023 has been a result of malignant normalization that has happened over the past few decades.
Take some self-responsibility for your space and time in this universe. Look in the mirror. Face those hard truths about yourself. Embrace that vulnerability. Grow from it. You woke up today, with that simple act, you are already, more resilient than the day before, if you choose to see it! Choose the next best step, that is all anyone can do, choose the next best step. One step at a time.
I could go on, but I fucking doubt anyone makes it to this point in the episode, probably tune out as soon as I brought up literacy rates and reading, fucking typical. Microwave attention spans. But, if you did make it to this point, I truly appreciate you and my frustration about this topic stems from the fact that I sincerely care so much about it. If you feel the same, please leave a comment on whatever platform you are listening on and drop a like and follow, it’s a free way to support the Podcast.
Thank you so much for listening and I will see next week as we continue to Go Further, One Step at a time!
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