In the article "Read, Kids, Read," writer Frank Bruni exposes the fact that reading among kids is declining rapidly. As a steadfast advocate for reading, he is concerned with the issue, and by proficiently using contrast, evidence and rhetorical questioning, he crafts a powerful argument to persuade readers that kids should read more.
Bruni initiates his argument by employing an explicit contrast: he neglected his nephew's birthdays, missed his niece's school performances, but he never forgets to ask his nephews and nieces to read more. This inconsistency in behaviors clearly highlights his overriding emphasis on reading, portraying him as a zealous advocate for kids' reading. By putting this contrast in the opening of the article, Bruni means to draw readers' attention to the issue of reading from the very beginning. To many adults and parents, who tend to prioritize their children's birthdays and school productions, Bruni's prodigious concern with reading may seem aberrant, thus arousing their curiosity and interest. Readers may begin to wonder why Bruni attaches so much importance to reading or whether reading is worthy of so much attention. Some of them may even begin to reflect on their indifference to reading by considering whether they should also encourage their kids to read more. In this way, Bruni is causing readers to ponder over the issue of kids’ reading and motivating them to engage further in his argument. By describing his inconsistent attitudes towards reading and other things concerning kids, Bruni successfully captures readers' attention and lays the groundwork for his later elaboration on the tremendous benefits of reading to kids.
To further his argument, Bruni then cites evidence from multiple sources to demonstrate the benefits that reading can generate. He references the research cited by writer Dan Hurley who concluded that intelligence has a "symbiotic" relationship with reading, and the study by neuroscientists at Emory University who "reported enhanced neural activity in people who’d been given a regular course of daily reading." By incorporating the research evidence, Bruni is helping his readers to understand the substantial value of reading, and making his argument more credible, for they clearly affirm his claim that reading does good to "the brain, heart and spirit." Anticipating some experts may hold doubts on the research, he goes on to mention his own experience, which is also shared by his friends--reading affords them refreshed mind and serenity--as an echo to the Emory study. By using his own personal example to endorse the Emory study, he is not only addressing experts' doubts, but also means to heighten readers' belief in the benefits of reading. In this way, he adds more potency to his argument, leading his readers to further believe that it is of considerable benefit to urge kids to read.
Apart from providing ample evidence, Bruni also makes an effective use of rhetorical questioning to reinforce his argument. In paragraph 12, he first refers to Success Academy Charter Schools, where students learn and play chess, which sharpens their "'ability to focus and concentrate,''' thus allowing them to "significantly outperform most peers statewide." The reference serves to remind readers that the ability to stay concentrated is essential to learning so as to lead them to realize that it is critical to cultivate their children's ability to focus and concentrate. When this realization is formed, Bruni promptly follows the reference with the rhetorical question "Doesn't reading do the same?" This question obviously inspires readers to brood over the role of reading in nurturing the ability to stay focused. Everybody who is familiar with reading knows that reading requires combating distraction constantly, which means that reading has great potential to improve focus and concentration. Hence, when considering the question, readers know the answer is inevitably Yes, and thus come to realize that they cannot afford to lose reading. The possibility that deficiency in reading may cause kids to lack ability to focus and concentrate sways them into seeing the reasonability behind Bruni's unwavering call for reading among kids.
Overall, Bruni crafts a cogent argument by masterfully and adroitly utilizing contrast, evidence, and rhetorical questions. His skillful use of these persuasive tactics guarantees that readers will be convinced of his conviction that kids should read more.