Well the Harry Potter books have arrived at the Knox household and no I didn’t turn to the last page to get the ending; but I was tempted. The fact that the evening news the night before announced in its lead story that grief counselors were on hand to help anyone who needed them to deal with the ending said more than I needed to know. We need grief counselors for a book? It appears as if the final book has lived up to expectations; even if little readers need a grief counselor.
Have to wonder what that call might sound like to the grief counselor? “Hello, the Knox Muggle family here. Little Katy has read the book and refuses to wear her black hat. We have conjured up several spells from book three to cheer her up, but none seems to be working. She is just despondent as hell.” “Over what Mr. Knox? “Well, you know what; the ending of the book. What should we do? “First of all, tell her to take a deep breath and explain to her the word, sequel. Then if that doesn’t work, tell the kid it’s a book! None of it is real!” Dial tone….Hello?
Not to take anything away from the importance of grief counselors, but this kind of stuff used to be the full job of parents. But given the fact that middle America is on a real shake up and what use to be a standard family of Mom, Dad, Kids all sitting around the house watching TV and reading, as we Boomers vaguely remember it, exists mostly only in our memories. Moms work, Dads work, the divorce rate is skyrocketing and good lord, just getting a family to sit down and look at each other while they eat an evening meal is impossible. So we have a lot of kids reading out there who are all on their own. On their own, being the key word here.
I remember as a kid we seldom did things alone. So when I heard, “Now George, Old Yeller really didn’t get killed,.” I had some family to explain it. But Geese Louise you still felt bad anyway and it did take some time to get over it. Talk about serendipity. If you’re a Kid, you felt badly when Bambi’s Mom got it didn’t you? I have a friend who has a theory that Walt Disney had it in for his parents. More Disney shows than one, have the parent getting eliminated early on and the rest of the story dealing with the child making it on their own. Hmmn come to think of it that happened to Harry as well! But to need a grief counselor? I guess it’s just a sign of the times.
So as wife and daughter devour their own copies of the book I should be happy, that at least someone in the house is reading. I came across the following stats while doing some research on the reading habits of America. It doesn’t look to promising.
42% of college graduates never read another book.
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
Only 32% of the U.S. population has ever been in a bookstore.
Customers 55 and older account for more than one-third of all books bought.
1992: 20% of adults in the U.S. read at or below the fifth grade level.
For a more in depth look at what is happening to middle America, check out this article, and good reading to all you muggles out there.