Reading gives people power. Reading and a love for education must begin at home, and people can't expect teachers and the classroom to replace the family, the editor of Parade magazine says.
"The greatest gift parents can give their children is time and attention. Throughout the nation too many parents have forgotten that. They have forgotten what it means to be a parent. There is no job that exists in this country, including president of the United States, that is more important than the role that a father and a mother play with their family," said Walter Anderson.Parade is a nationally syndicated Sunday magazine distributed by the Deseret News.
Anderson, who is married and father of two children and who has been editor of Parade since 1980, repeatedly stressed the importance of the family, education and the love of learning during a visit to Utah.
The 46-year-old White Plains, N.Y., editor, writer and educator was in Salt Lake City for the Literacy Volunteers of America convention in the Red Lion Hotel.
Anderson, who dropped out of high school at age 16 and who went on to get a high school equivalency degree in the Marine Corps, to become an investigative reporter and a college professor, came to Utah to greet people featured in his new book, "Read With Me," and to autograph copies of the book. A look at how people learn to read, the book was published by Houghton-Mifflin in September.
The author, a member of the Literacy Volunteers of America National Advisory Council, said he likes to encourage students, tutors and others involved in the literacy movement.
During an interview Anderson discussed his own upbringing in the slums of New York, the value of education and the importance of literacy education.
At Parade magazine, the most widely circulated publication (in 335 newspapers delivered to 35 million homes) in history, Anderson has also served in other editorial positions. He worked for newspapers in New Rochelle and Westchester, N.Y., for the Associated Press and New York Magazine.
He said his passion for literacy began during his childhood. He said he was the abused child of a violently abusive alcoholic father and lived in a tenement house.
"I was often safer on the street corner than I was in my own bed. If my father caught me reading, he would beat me. My mother . . . encouraged me to read." Years after his father's death, Anderson said his mother told him that she encouraged him to read as a way of helping him find a better life.
Anderson said one of the "most difficult things that occurs to adults who can't learn to read is they convince themselves that they can't learn to read." That's a tragedy, he said, "because if you can say it or think it, you can learn to read."
After returning from the Marine Corps and service in Vietnam, Anderson worked full time on a small newspaper and also attended college full time. He has degrees in the liberal arts, social sciences and psychology and taught psychology while working as a newspaper managing editor.
Anderson decried the fact that the government doesn't place a higher priority on education. "We invest far less in education than we do in the military, agriculture and health and human services."
The opening of Anderson's new book contains the following:
"Behold my magic. I can cast a thought a thousand miles, through storm and stone, even beyond time. Long after my flesh has withered my bones . . . the very best of me - my ideas, my dreams - can live, can burn with undiminished fire and passion. All because I have a gift, a power, and I am not alone. You share my miracle: You cannot touch me, but I am here; you cannot see me, but I am real. At this very moment, I am alive in your mind. We call this miracle language."