KID: Reading for fun, are you kidding? Those words sound mismatched to me. I’d rather have a tooth pulled than read a book for fun.
NEIGHBOR: I hope you brush your teeth a lot so going to the dentist is fun for you.
KID: Not really. But, brushing teeth and going to the dentist are CRAZY things that only parents or teachers talk about, right?
NEIGHBOR: Maybe grownups say such things because we were once kids too and didn’t want cavities.
KID: Yeah, but I mean grownups also talk about such CRAZY ideas like “reading for fun.” They don’t have to deal with schoolyard bullies who’d knock out your teeth for saying that…so you’d end up at the dentist anyway.
NEIGHBOR: Man, the bullies in your school sound worse than when I was a kid. Back then at recess, I proved the best at doing cartwheels through double ropes. The girls teased me mercilessly, mostly out of jealousy, I think. So, I decided to become the only girl on the boys’ ball team at recess.
KID: Aw, you’re pulling my leg. You didn’t do that?
NEIGHBOR: Sure did. I wouldln’t allow anyone to tell me how the cow ate cabbage because I was plenty good at sports.
KID: Still that’s not the same as saying you liked to “read for fun.” If any kid fessed up to that now, some bully would beat him up.
NEIGHBOR: Sounds like kids today need more power to squash such trouble-makers. You know that bullies usually run when resisted. Maybe that’s what we discovered when growing up and reading for fun. Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn challenged our fears so we could win against our enemies. Reading let us take mental vacations… meet new people… visit strange lands…even learn foreign words. Strangely, we began to feel smarter and more powerful…almost like superheroes in comic books. No one would dare stop a superhero from reading for fun…if that’s what he chose to do.
KID: Well, not me. I only read when I have to. Except maybe comic books. I do like those.
NEIGHBOR: Boy, I did too. On vacation, my parents let us buy comic books. Although most kids had boxes of Superman or Captain Marvel under their beds, I wanted to be different, so I always bought Plastic Man because he could stretch his arms around corners.
KID: Boy, I wish could stretch that far.
NEIGHBOR: Well, even if your arms can’t stretch farther than your reach, your brain sure can. Reading for fun can stretch it as far as you can imagine.
KID: Won’t that make my head hurt?
NEIGHBOR: Maybe a little, but what if it made you grow more powerful in class and on the school yard? That’s what the mystery series The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple is all about. You have a choice: Have Fun. Get Smarter.™ You can simply go along with Ima to solve the mysteries or follow hidden clues in character biographies in the back of the book.
KID: Back of the book! That sounds like school.
NEIGHBOR: Maybe a little, but what if it’s a new way for you to jump ahead and to discover secrets? If so, I figure by “reading for fun,” you can’t keep yourself from learning, either by accident or intention.