“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.”
— B.F. Skinner
… because reading is a peek into someone else’s mind, a spark for the imagination caused by a glimpse into someone else’s imagination, a tap into the wine of someone else’s insight, uninterrupted except by the pauses during which you choose to revel or reflect.
I looked over at the turntable after writing that little paragraph and thought about musicians polishing their recordings to perfection, as well as the beauty of live recordings. There is no substitute, perhaps, for an actual conversation, messy as it is, but a book or a record is a next best. And in the case of the dearly departed, it is the only way to have that conversation.
So yes, we should first teach a love of reading rather than great books, because a love of reading will lead you to the books you consider great, and if you start with somebody else’s idea of a great book, you may never kindle a love of reading in the first place.