Books, life chances, and where to get them

“The evidence shows that the difference between children who get bedtime stories and those who don’t, the difference in their life chances, is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t.” – from the book The Enchanted Hour, by Meghan Cox Gurdon.

I need to quote this finding time and time again. This scientific revelation has one message: Our schooling system is to some degree obsolete. Everyone can improve their life chances significantly, even without entering elite schools: all it takes is to read more books. And according to Stephen Krashen, for children to do so, it takes only 10 minutes of reading every day.

Stephen Krashen made it his life’s mission to investigate into the very process of language acquisition and how humans learn to read. In his lecture „The Power of Reading”, at UGA Mary Frances Early College of Education, Professor Krashen states that there are two main factors that get children (and people in general) into reading books:

  1. One successful reading experience with a self chosen book
  2. The availability of books

With the second factor being the far more important one. There need to be books – in order for people to be able to read books.

Now. Books are expensive. In the same way music records used to be expensive.

If you – just like me – were born a handful of decades ago, then you can remember that owning music records was a sort of a luxury. There used to be only a few people around who could afford an extensive music record collection. Or they were individuals who dedicated their lives to music. They invested every penny they had into music.

Then, in the year 1999, along came Napster.

This changed everything. Napster liberated music, and it liberated people. People could finally listen to any song they liked, at any time. No longer were they dependent on the playlist of the local radio, or on a friend who bought a music record, or on their own financial dedication – in combination with their local record store actually being able to order that record. Napster changed the world.

Of course the music industry had to react to that. But after a decade of them brawling, we can now have more or less any song at any time in our ears, for a $10 monthly music subscription with one of the many services like Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube Music, Amazon Prime Music etc.

Now. Books.

Books are still expensive, and unaffordable for the majority of the world population. But reading is trending. If reading is trending, and the availability of books is the one main factor for getting people into reading… How can that be?

In the year 2020, along came Z-Library.

This project, just like Napster, is changing the world from its grounds up. This illegal pirate website, just like the now defunct Napster for music, puts (almost) any book at the fingertips of every child – no matter rich or poor. Provided the kids have access to the Internet, it provides everyone with the same chances for growth and personal development.

The message of Z-Library is clear and absolute: Pick a book you like. Start to read.

It will be interesting to watch how the book industry and compulsory schooling system will react to this challenge. If people read again, to the extend they watch TV-Series (which do nothing for a child’s brain, according to science) there might be an interest by the entertainment industry to provide books to people.

If Apple can afford to spend $6 billion upwards on a row of TV Series, they would surely be able to spend a few billions on book licenses too, and advertise that library accordingly.

I read that librarians the world over are very quiet about Z-Library. Maybe they know that such a service is necessary to set the stage, to create momentum, to get a critical mass of people back into reading books.

I myself I’m lucky enough to be able to purchase books. Plus there’s Project Gutenberg with over 60,000 classic titles (the Top 10 books of all time are usually all classics), available legally and for free. However, I’m very much looking forward to a $10 monthly subscription from Apple Books, unlimited Kindle Unlimited, or Barnes&Nobles, Spotify for Books, or whomever, that will put any book at my own fingertips, with no lending limit.