Saturday, September 7, 2013
The End of Bedtime Stories?
Recently I read a really disheartening statistic. In a poll conducted by Harris Interactive, they found that "only 33 percent of U.S. parents read bedtime stories with their children nightly. Fifty percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books." While I'm not surprised, my heart sank. Growing up, I remember my Mom reading to me a chapter or two each night when I was little. It was by her reading to me this way, that I heard A Pilgrim's Progress, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Anne of Green Gables among others. It was this fostering a love of reading in me that encouraged me to become such an avid reader.
When Benjamin was little, I began reading to him every night. He and I shared in books that had been favorites of mine (The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in a Time, all of Roald Dahl), as well as discovering books that became his favorites (Inkheart, Coraline, the Percy Jackson series). It was a quiet time that we had together where words took center stage. He and I would become caught up in the stories, the characters, and the worlds created by some amazing authors. It was a time where we had to use our imaginations to visualize what was taking place. Books also provided us an opportunity to talk about many different topics and subjects; both lighthearted and serious. Books provided a bonding experience that the more passive activities of television and video games cannot.
Currently, I'm reading a chapter or two a night to Cava from Charlotte's Web. He will come and find me, to ask me to do this. Cava will snuggle up close to me, under his covers, and listen as I read about Wilbur and his friendship with the spider Charlotte. He has to look at each illustration closely. Cava reacts to what is unfolding and he'll comment (an example being that when Wilbur is sad and no one wants to play with him or be his friend, Cava got upset and told me, "That's not nice." "No, it's not, is it?" We then paused to talk about how it felt for Cava to feel just that way when he was in Ukraine. This is a conversation that wouldn't have happened had we just been watching TV).
So it saddens me to think that "only 1 out of 4 parents" are reading to their children at bedtime. What are these parents missing by not taking the time to read to their children? How will this shape future generations? Will this create more and more future parents who won't read to their kids as well?
Reading is a way to show children that they are not alone. It provides them a framework for not only using their imaginations but also helps them to understand others better. By stepping into the shoes of the characters from books, they have to see the world differently. Nothing bothers me more than to hear a kid state, "I'd rather watch the movie than read the book." Movies, TV, and video games are no substitute for the amazing and expanding opportunities that await a child in a great book.
To read the article, go to: