Celebrating The Power of the Printed Word: Part 5
Celebrating The Power of the Printed Word: Part 5.

Here’s the fifth of 12 ads from the 1982 “Power of the Printed Word” ad campaign by International Paper Company. I’m offering the series as an inspiration to your staff, co-workers – and you – to communicate more effectively and understand the benefits of doing so – not just at work but in life.


Fifth in the series:  “How to encourage your child to read” by Erma Bombeck

It’s always intrigued me that somehow we agreed – across large swaths of the planet – that certain symbols arranged in a certain order would communicate roughly the same thing to anyone who reads them. For example, if I write “Big Mac” on a chalk board and then ask my 12-person audience each to write down what it means, I’d likely get a dozen very similar responses. At the same time, if we all agreed “Ndisme Fgnd” were the symbols that communicated “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce . . .” etc., that’s what you’d see displayed on the menu at your local McDonald’s.

Of course, that we all interpret those symbols the same way is paramount to effective communication. Those common symbols (a.k.a. letters) let us communicate, and that ability opens a world of ideas, opinions and experiences that help us form our own.

I just finished reading Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. (See “The Power of the Printed Word, Part I.”)  I never met Mr. Vonnegut nor did I ever speak with him, but by reading the symbols he put on paper, I was able to get his perspective on war – a topic about which we have no common experience. His thoughts and, in other circumstances, those of others, help fill a well of information I can access to decide how I feel about a given topic. These interactions make me a more well-rounded, better-informed person.

In this fifth installment of “The Power of the Printed Word,” former syndicated columnist and author Erma Bombeck bolsters my contention with her thoughts on the importance of getting children to read as soon as possible. She also adds some additional perspectives, presented more eloquently than my own: “(Reading) will open doors of curiosity. It will titillate (children’s) desire to see places they thought were make-believe. It softens loneliness, fills the gaps of boredom, creates role models and changes the course of their very lives.”

Pull quote: “Scientists say a child acquires 50 percent of the intelligence she’ll eventually have by age four. She adds another 30 percent by the time she’s eight.”

power of the printed word part v encourage children to read