Our Future Depends on Books, According to Neil Gaiman

We know that author Neil Gaiman is a cool guy. Not only does he write great books; he’s also an advocate for reading and libraries, as all the coolest people are. The Guardian adapted a speech of Gaiman’s, in which he delves into how and why our future depends on books. He argues that we must keep books relevant and accessible, or our future may suffer.

A major reason, of course, lies in future generations. Not only for literacy but because books are able to show children different worlds and educate them on things they would never have dreamed of. According to Gaiman, there is no such thing as a bad children’s book. Every story can lead a child somewhere!

Gaiman also points out the importance of public libraries for our future. Not only do they offer literature to anyone, but they also provide internet service and the greater freedom of education. All people have a right to information, a thing with Gaiman says is “always important, and always worth having.” He also emphasizes that reading is not just for gaining knowledge; it offers entertainment. He says: “I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.” It is our current duty to support libraries and librarians, which could entail protesting library closures. In short, we must be active and supportive readers- and not succumb to the easy, lazy route. Our future really depends on it!

Toward the end, Gaiman had a message to all writers:

“We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it’s the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers’ throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves.”

Well said, Neil! You can read his whole speech here. Do you think books are the future? Let us know!


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