WASHINGTON, D.C.—Despite the insistence of librarians and elementary school teachers that books give readers a chance to “travel to exciting new places” and “journey to distant exotic lands,” a study re-leased by the Department of Education yesterday revealed that books do not take you anywhere.
In its lengthy study, the Department made it clear that reading has never been known to transport readers to any place other than the general area in which the reading is actually taking place. It was also disclosed that even these local movements are, in almost every case, voluntary decisions made by the reader and not in any way attached to the reading process.
“People involved in reading often sit quite still trying not to move,” Department of Education researcher Hannah Morton said. “In fact, we’ve found that it actually assists readers in processing a text if they are stationary or fixed in one area.”
The study found grade school and junior-high readers particularly susceptible to the travel myths. In one case study, 9-year-old Justin Fisher began reading a fantasy novel by C.S. Lewis under close observation. After 60 minutes, the only travel to occur was a voluntary visit to the kitchen for a snack and two trips to the bathroom, both made because Fisher “had to go.” In no way, say researchers, did any of the travel involve evil witches, messianic lions or closet portals to other universes.
“I just stayed in my room without moving that much,” Fisher said.
Another case documented 13-year-old Elizabeth Wer-ner, reading the novel Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. Fatigued after more than three hours of reading, the disappointed seventh-grader set the book down near her chair, having remained stationary the entire time.
Morton, who has read over 15 novels herself, related personal experience to the study’s findings. “I have a sturdy leather chair that I sit in when I read, and I have always remained in place while engaged in a novel,” she said.
The study noted exceptions to its findings, citing situations in which people read in buses, trains and planes.
“For some, reading can be especially enjoyable on, say, a commercial aircraft,” Colin Hail of Doubleday Publishing said. “But even if the reader is in motion while reading, it is clearly not a result of the reading itself, but rather of the moving vehicle.”
Inspired by the study’s findings, many youths are now calling into question the empty promises of library posters and classroom slogans.
“I hate it when you get excited about a distant land and then you don’t go there,” Fisher said. “Reading sucks.”