"Reading Is Cool" Aesop

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That Great Big Book of Everything has an awesome chapter on literacy.

Lisa: A library! ... No, I can't... that's the old, nerdy Lisa.
Pippi Longstocking: [Magically appears] Lisa, read about my adventures in the South Seas, and make me live again!
Eustace (from The New Yorker): We've got periodicals on microfiche...
Alice in Wonderland: [nervously] Won't you join our tea party? It would be ever so...
[Mad Hatter pulls a gun and grabs Alice]

Alice: Don't do it, Lisa. It's a trap! Run! Run!
The Simpsons, "Summer of 4 Ft. 2"

A common PSA type plot and Aesop for kids shows and movies. There's a few possible plots that lead to this:

Usually the new reader(s) have to overcome Anti Intellectualism and other prejudices in themselves and others. Frequently these episodes include a rainy day and power outage to force the kids to read, or have them sick and needing a lot of bed rest. The children who learn this aesop usually decide that, even though the weather is better and/or they aren't sick anymore they'll continue to read. May overlap with Separate Scene Storytelling. If this trope is paired with New Media Are Evil the message tends to boil down to "put down your mind numbing handheld device and read a mind opening book". Anviliciousness optional.

It's worth noting that a show can be just as likely to promote the opposite Aesop, that too much reading can be just as bad as too little, and encourage kids to go out and play or make friends. The idea of reading as being good for you is actually a fairly new concept that came with the advent of television. Prior to that, recreational reading was viewed in pretty much the same sense as watching television is today.


Examples of "Reading Is Cool" Aesop include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

Film - Live Action[edit | hide]

  • The Princess Bride uses a grandfather reading to his sick grandson as the framing device, and the movie shows the kid get thoroughly hooked.

Film - Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Pagemaster tried to do this, but as many people pointed out, it doesn't really encourage reading, instead name-dropping a few literary classics and using loose approxiamations of their plots and characters for action scenes.
  • This is probably the second biggest aesop in Beauty and the Beast, after the moral about learning to love someone for who they are inside. The main character is a girl who loves reading for recreation, even though everyone else around her in her "poor, provincial town" other than father thinks her odd for it. The "Human Again" sequence from the stage musical (and adapted for the film's special edition) goes further, with Belle teaching The Beast to read and him admitting that he never knew books could be so powerful - by making him forget, if only for a moment, who and what he is.

Literature[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Reading Rainbow was an entire series dedicated to teaching kids that reading is cool.
  • In an episode of the Chinese Wuxia TV series Seven Swordsmen, we learn that the reason Swordsman Mu wants to learn to read is that his entire family was killed because of their illiteracy. The "festival banners" they were hired to put up were actually anti-government slogans, and the government soldiers were very displeased.

Puppet Shows[edit | hide]

  • This is the main point being driven home by the shows Between the Lions and Wilbur, whose slogan is that "Books are moovelous!"

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • An Alvin and The Chipmunks episode had Dave reading Treasure Island, and at the end, the boys turned off the TV and video games to read The Three Musketeers.
  • There's a song in the musical episode of Arthur in which the refrain goes "Having fun isn't hard/When you've got a library card."
    • In another episode, Arthur bemoans the fact that he wasted his entire summer vacation because he didn't do any of the things on his summer "to-do" list, then realizes he did all of them by reading stories.
    • This aesop practically appears everywhere in the series, which makes sense since the cartoon was based off a book series. Heck, Arthur's last name is "Read".
  • Gargoyles had an early episode with Merlin's diary. Everyone was thinking it would be Merlin's spellbooks, Macbeth was particularly disappointed. Broadway and Hudson start learning how to read.
  • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Read It and Weep" has Rainbow Dash laid up at a hospital with nothing to do. Twilight suggests a book, but Dash resists because "reading is for eggheads". Eventually she starts reading, and becomes enraptured with a story about Adventurer Archaeologist Daring Do. So much so that when she is discharged, she sneaks back into the hospital to finish the book.
  • Subverted in the South Park episode "Chicken Lover". Officer Barbrady turns out to be illiterate and has to be taught how to read in order to solve the mystery of who is having sex with chickens. The culprit turns out to be the owner of the bookmobile, as part of a convoluted plot to get Barbrady to read books. At the end, Barbrady swears off reading after having to slog through Atlas Shrugged.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • This is Truth in Television; lots of children's libraries promote reading as a way to find new adventures.
    • During the 90's, this became a little on the Anvilicious side. Many (ironically!) televised PSA's were heavily pushing this Aesop, and more often than not, they had a New Media Are Evil slant.