by Kara Bell
In the Age of Distraction, it’s not often we sit down, get comfortable and open a good book. Screens often block our sight from the world as we plug into social media, the latest news alert or reply to a text. But there’s more to life than bright screens and constant contact. There’s the neglected enjoyment and curiosity that comes from reading a good book.
Author Meghan Cox Gurdon joined the Center for Conservative Women and the Heritage Foundation last Friday for their partnered Conservative Women’s Network luncheon to share a little secret that truly brings more happiness, a healthier lifestyle, peaceful and calm moments during the day and a more physiologically rewarding and culturally enriched life. The simplicity of opening an interesting book, flipping the pages and reading can make a bigger difference on your life than you think.
In fact, Gurdon offered the audience several snippets of a couple case studies she used in her book, “The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction.” She explained to the audience that “reading aloud is so powerful in its effects and so nourishing for children that social scientists say getting that mediated time with books and an adult is one of the most important indicators of a child’s prospects in life.” As children enjoy stories and pick up language, they develop empathy, emotional resilience, self-regulation and self-mastering that will carry them far through life. But reading isn’t just for children. It increases adults’ attention span, ability to focus and communicate with well-thought ideas and most importantly, partake and appreciate the enjoyment of being mentally present with another person.
Not only is the time spent reading so important, but the stories, characters and imagination within a story is beneficial for both kids and adults. However, this enjoyable journey we partake in when we flip the pages is becoming more and more constricted. According to Gordon, “Works of imagination – the living body of literature – is under attack from within.” People in the book industry, writers and bloggers, editors and agents, are “collaborating to make some works and some authors unacceptable.”
Ideas are shut down, books are taken off the shelves and novels are banned from schools because they are “too toxic” for readers. “The elevation of emotion over reason, taking offense without regard to intent, the imputing of racism if an author depicts people of different skin colors or ethnicities – from his or her own – and the imputing of racism if an author doesn’t depict people of different skin colors or ethnicities is disastrous,” said Gurdon.
“The language of intersectionality is so hungry – its infinitely expandable – a prairie fire that devours as it spreads,” Gurdon explained. The overlapping modes of repression, patriarchy, heteronormativity, ableism and ageism – any of these sins can get an author and any of their books “burned in the public square of social media.”
Our culture has become so under attack from this internal battle of censorship, that American legacy Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name was stripped from a prestigious award established in her name a few years before she passed in 1957. The award honored writers who made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. At the time, a representative of the American Library Association explained that Wilder’s works reflect “dated cultural attitudes towards indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration and understanding of diverse communities.”
“Look – the past is another country,” Gurdon exclaimed, “People do things differently there.”
The disgracing of books that fail to match modern expectations is crude – and to use the Left’s favorite word – unfair. Reading alone, to a friend, family member or child is one of the most important actions we can take to live a happier, more fulfilling life. However, as stories and new fantasies are stripped from the shelves and tossed in the trash, this expansion of discovery, free thought and free expression is continually suppressed by these so-called warriors who believe they know what’s best for American culture.