I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something that I find very worrisome, that is the sheer reality that so many children aren’t reading. You see the thing is, long before I was a writer, I was a reader. Bedtimes stories were one of my favourite parts of the day. My childhood was largely spent with my nose buried in a book – not much has changed since then. In fact, I remember being scolded by teachers frequently in elementary school for reading a book under my desk and not paying attention to what they were teaching!
Since I was born, the evolution of technology has been mind-blowing. In 15 years, I’ve gone from having huge white computer monitors with identically large processors to having iPads in the classroom. I feel fortunate that most of my childhood happened before technology took over.
I remember going to restaurants when I was younger and having colouring sheets and crayons thrust before me upon my arrival. As I learned to read, books became my other source of entertainment, in public and at home. Now, the children I see in restaurants are on iPads and iPods in order to assure compliant behaviour. Let me be clear – I am not making judgements on the parenting styles of others. It can’t imagine how difficult it must be to keep your child from making a scene in public.
The thing is, portable technology isn’t just used in special situations anymore. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to encourage kids to go outside, discover nature, read and explore new universes.
There is research to support this as well – after all, having a parent or other caring person read aloud with their children helps children learn listening skills, vocabulary and language skills, as well as develop imagination and creativity.
Books and other creative mediums are so important for not only children, but adults as well! Take a break from your phone, and pick up a book instead.
Like you, I was a reader long before I was a writer. I enjoyed reading from an early age, but there is one instance that sticks out in my mind as when my love for reading truly began. On my tenth birthday – if my math is correct – I received a set of hardcover Nancy Drew books from my Grandma. I had never read Nancy Drew before, but I was intrigued by the mysterious illustrations on the front covers.
I remember leaving the dinner table and curling up on the end of a couch, diving into the fourth book of the series (because who starts on the first book of the series?! Oh, right… most people). My obsession with the Nancy Drew series grew to the point where once I had nearly one hundred Nancy Drew books in my room.
As I grew older, I stopped reading as frequently as I used to. I still love reading; I just have trouble making time for it. Someone who definitely does not have trouble making time for reading, as I’m sure you know, is my sister. She is a ravenous reader, and always makes time for it.
I agree with you that it is troubling that young children are choosing technology over literature. I think this reflects society’s attitude towards reading: that, in general, it is not as important as technology. We both know this isn’t true.
Sure, you can’t text someone using a book; but you can communicate with fictional characters living incredibly unique (or incredibly ordinary) lives. Books don’t give us a glimpse of what our friends are doing on the weekend, or their latest Instagram selfie, but they do give us a glimpse inside ourselves as we relate to characters and find parallels between our lives and their stories.
I feel guilty as I stare at my computer screen, writing this, and my stack of books waiting to be read stare back at me. Thanks for the reminder to pick them up – I am going to make an effort to do that tonight.
Here’s to books!