Last week, the US election had people all over the world hitting refresh on their social media for days. As I scrolled through my social media feeds, that was all many people talked about. The drama only added to it. Was it the end of Trump? Would Biden flip Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan?
On and on it went.
Now, with the election behind us, people seem to have gone back to their regular postings. I, for one, am grateful. The one thing I love about social media is the ability to share ideas, uplifting stories and new breakthroughs in technology and medicine.
One post stuck out to me this week. It had a picture of J.K. Rowling, Jeff Besos, and Warren Buffet. It was entitled “Power of Books.” J.K. Rowling, as everyone knows, became a billionaire from writing the Harry Potter series. Jeff Besos became a billionaire from selling books and Warren Buffet became a billionaire from reading books. Books made them billionaires.
And yet, according to Pew Research Center, 24% of American adults haven’t read a book, in part or whole, in the past year. What’s interesting though is the only 11% of rich people read for entertainment, preferring more education, career-related, or self-improvement books. Do they know something other people don’t?
In school, we’re all taught to read. My AP English class curriculum consisted of the likes of Catcher in the Rye, Waiting for Godot, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. These books are classics for a reason and have earned their place in the curriculum. My personal belief is they have very little practical application to our daily lives.
One of my favorite posts ever sums up the disconnect between school and life – “I’m glad I learned about parallelograms instead of how to do taxes. It’s really come in handy this parallelogram season.”
Rather than focusing exclusively on old classics, why not mix in some modern bestsellers, one or two personal development books and a light business book thrown in for good measure? That would help open people’s eyes to how powerful books can be.
I have been an educator in one form or another for thirty years now. First, as an English teacher. Then, a personal development coach. Now, as a productivity consultant. The one thing I’ve seen time and time again is that the more people enjoy something, the more they learn. But not all of us enjoy the same books. Most of my friends love fantasy or spy novels. When it comes to novels, I’m more of an Agatha Christie man myself. But most of the time, I read business books. Not because they’re better or more interesting, but because they’re more practical. The bottom line is we need to give students a wider range from which to work from.
If you’re a parent reading this, you might be saying to yourself, there’s no way I can get my kids to put away their screens and read more books. But it’s easier than you might think – bribery. Not a fan of that word? Ok, let’s call it financial encouragement.
Teenagers want money to go hang out with their friends, buy some new clothes, a new car, or the latest iPhone Pro, so make it worth their while. A friend of mine paid his teenage son for each book on his list. He went on to finish a record number of books over the next six months.
While his son started out saving up for the down payment on a used car, after reading those books he decided against it and instead started a very modest stock portfolio. Through reading, his son had learned one very important life lesson – the difference between assets and liabilities. The key lesson from Robert Kiyosaki’s bestseller Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
As a father, I want the best for my son. I want him to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Books can unlock doors to all three areas. Unfortunately, like most kids today, they’re glued to their screens.
Maybe they’re playing Fortnite on their Switch, or checking out YouTube on their iPad, or perhaps TikTok on your iPhone. Regardless of their virtual poison, we need to find ways to pull them out of it. That’s why ethically bribery might be the best choice. Money can be a powerful motivator, especially for teenagers.
It’s harder than ever to get your kids to read more. Who can blame them? There are so many attractive options out there.
As parents, we just need to realize that books, not screens, are the real secret to success.