Are you reading this?
Thank a teac- U.K. McDonald's.
Last week news outlets picked up on the experimental literacy initiative by McDonald's restaurants in the U.K.
The new practice of replacing Happy Meal toys with books is to make the chain the U.K.'s largest book distributor.
And the books are not little stories cut out from Pixar movies with marketable characters.
They're educational, non-fiction books about the world around children.
I feel hopeful about this. There is something in the stillness of a book that allows the mind to work.
I'm thinking about the mind of a young kid processing a 2-d image of a rarely seen deep ocean inhabitant.
The words on the page help the kid to imagine how this creature moves, what it likes to eat, and how it might sleep.
A crucial thing happens here. The creative process begins. The child imagines the thing moving. The mind can go anywhere from there, including across the board from living beings to inanimate objects.
The accidentally arrived at association between the way an unseeing deep ocean dweller moves and the way a submarine glides above the ocean floor without a (the child comes up with) windshield - is where innovation lies.
Where ideas are born and connections are made. The child will use this kind of process to solve problems, to practice deductive reasoning, and to hopefully cure disease and get us off of gasoline.
Yeah, the future of the human race turns course here because McDonald's started giving out educational books.
But think about it.
How many books will that be for some kids?
I know a couple of kids whose schedules and freedom allow for them to have McDonald's twice in a day sometimes. Breakfast and then lunch. Sometimes lunch and then dinner. Sometimes breakfast and dinner.
And how important are books?
Jonathan Douglas, director of Britain's National Literacy Trust told journalists their own studies show there's a "very clear link" between book ownership and future success in life.
Do you remember a book from your childhood?
I remember one specific book more than others, though this is a bad example because it hasn't really helped me become a better person. It just made me a little bit scared of snakes for a while.
It was a book about reptiles.
There was a scientific drawing of a king snake in it. I know I only saw the drawing, but this damn thing has been a recurring character in my thought life and in dreams for the past 20 years.
I know all angles of this snake and how it moves and all about how it wants to kill me sometimes and be my friend other times.
It must have been a particularly formative time to be studying books or learning anything. If only I had picked up an instrument during that time and instead learned to be creative with that.
However the brain works, books and reading seem to be the stickiest.
Saying it again. There is something in the stillness of a book that allows the mind to work.
Not to be gloomy, but the work is being taken out of our imaginations. Aps, games and shows are consumed in mass quantities. They're the same popular ones over and over, being taken in by large subjugations.
We're all entertained by someone else's expressed imagination.
Globally loved Spongebob Squarepants is not my creation. I wish he was, I love him. But how many hours of imagination or creativity has the yellow sponge absorbed?
Create something. Doesn't have to be useful.
Sit still. Read. Be.