Our Town: Reading Town Academy sends the right message

Dr Tom Farraro

Why should we spend any time reading classic works of literature? Good question.

I typically spend 45 minutes every morning sipping my coffee and reading one of the many  great masterpieces.

Over the last three years I have read “Moby Dick” by Melville, “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo, “Old Man and the Sea” by Hemingway, “Frankenstein” by Shelley, “The Marble Faun” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “A Tale of Two Cities” by Dickens, “The Great Gatsby: by Fitzgerald, “Don Quixote” by Cervantes, “Robinson Crusoe” by Defoe, “The Glass Bead Game” by Herman Hesse, :The Wind-up Brid Chronicle” by Murakami and “1984: by George Orwell.

I’m currently reading Mark Twains’ “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”  And I’m loving it.

I read “Hunchback of Notre Dame” to prepare for my trip to Paris. I read “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo because I was going to see the musical while in London. I read “The Marble Faun” by Hawthorne because it was set in Rome, a city I visited last month. Masterpieces act like uber travelogues that help your to appreciate your time abroad.

Furthermore every masterpiece is filled with profound truth.

The story of the Holy Grail is a lesson about loss and sadness if one can’t appreciate beauty when you see it.

Orwell’s “1984” is about how the corporation can destroy one’s soul and that love is the only thing that can save you.  Both “The Old Man and the Sea” and “Moby Dick” are about the power of hope in the face of impossible odds.

“The Great Gatsby” and “Don Quixote” are both about an undying  quest for  love.

Reading the masterpieces of literature is one of the most pleasurable and important things I do each day.

Serendipity was working last weekend  when I noticed a small unassuming sign that said Reading Town Academy in the shopping center at 424 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park.

I walked in to explore the place and to my great surprise I saw on the wall a book shelf displaying some of my favorite books like  “Call of the Wild” by Jack London, “A Christmas Carol by Dickens,” “The Scarlett Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.

I then met Jennifer Han who is the director of the place who told me about the history of this learning center.

It was founded in Flushing Queens 21 years ago by a man who had a passion for education.

His name is Dr. Soonho Song and he set out to create the world’s best learning center.

Well he must be doing something right because he now has 220 centers globally in places all over the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Korea, and the Philippines.

The entire set up is computer-based and insists on parental involvement.

They teach reading, creative writing and even presentation skills.

As I studied the program I could see it was a thorough immersion program with careful evaluation, tracking of progress, parental involvement, one on one attention and plenty of kindness and encouragement.

Ms. Han remarked that reading a classic like “Old Man and the Sea”  teaches us life lessons.

I agree and think that the pace of reading a classic is arduous.

You must overcome the lure of TV. It took me about 60 hours to read “Les Miserables” but if you watch the film version you are done it two hours.

Reading a classics is like going to a mental gym where you build up important mental strength like focus, concentration,  wisdom, intelligence  and pride.

A few years ago I published a book in Korean and I got to go the Seoul for my book tour.

Seoul is a city of 25 million people with 12-lane highways,  quiet subways and kind people.

We went into a movie house one night to watch the latest Batman film and the place was packed with teenagers who were all sitting quietly.  How is this possible?

Ms. Han told me that the Korean culture emphasizes diligence, respect and education. These traits are exactly what have made The Reading Town Academy such a successful place that  has 220 centers world-wide.

So if you want your child to get more competitive, do better on the SAT’s, get into an Ivy League school, become smarter or simply to learn how to enjoy the classics you ought to remember the name Reading Town Academy.

And when you are there take a look at the books on the shelves and then go to your local library and check one out for yourself.

Why should kids have all the fun?

About the author

Dr Tom Farraro

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