A Letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs

In 1931, a schoolboy wrote a fan letter to his favorite author, Edgar Rice Burroughs. It said, in part:
I am a fourteen year old boy and am a low Junior in High School. Today at school our teacher was discussing "good literature." I asked if Edgar Rice Burroughs was all right for a book report. I knew she'd say "no" (teachers always do) but I didn't expect her to lecture to the class for the whole period about how terrible your books were!

The author of the Tarzan novels wrote back, in part:
My stories will do you no harm. If they have helped to inculcate in you a love of books, they have done you much good. No fiction is worth reading except for entertainment. If it entertains and is clean, it is good literature, or its kind. If it forms the habit of reading, in people who might not read otherwise, it is the best literature.

Which explains why I bought the Twilight books for my youngest daughter. The 14-year-old boy who wrote the letter was Forrest J. Ackerman, {wiki} who grew up to coin the term "sci-fi". Ackerman was a film producer, actor, and the editor of the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, and made a name as the biggest science fiction fan ever. Read both letters in full at Letters of Note. Link

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Vonskippy, the first thing I notice when visiting a person's house for the first time is whether books are present. How many? Displayed how? What kinds? And yes, it bugs me too how little the skill (or art, or love) of reading is valued anymore.
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I'm curious: did the Harry Potter books really get kids hooked on reading, or hooked on Harry Potter? And speaking of "To Kill A Mockingbird," I'm currently rereading it. Always interesting to rediscover the books you loved when you were younger, through more adult eyes.
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The Xanth series is what turned me into an avid reader, and while it's a silly (and some of the later books were a little bit of a let down) it grew the seeds in me to love words, the ridiculous and satire. While I detest Twilight for it's depiction of an unhealthy relationship,however I don't care for any vampire romance fiction as I cannot see a food driven killing machine loving it's meal, otherwise we'd see harbor seals and sharks frolicking in the seas.
I do agree that it's a great way to get a literary foot in the door, once you get someone hooked on using their imagination there's no going back.
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From observational data only, I find that practically everyone I consider as "being smart" is a book lover (i.e. always has at least 2-3 books in the process of being read - starts process anew every week or so - has a nice home library - etc).

Yet when I talk to the average parent and ask if their kid is a reader, the majority shrug and say "not really" - and the disturbing fact is it doesn't really seem to bother them.

The western world is heading down the path detailed in the comedy "Idiocracy". It'd be funny if it wasn't real life.
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