Progress Schmogress

by Rachel Baker on February 28, 2008

children readingSome of my best memories as a kid is of my mom telling us bedtime stories. I have two siblings that I grew up with (I have two additional siblings from subsequent marriages but not until after we were older). Our rooms were at one end of the house, with the bedroom doors opening up into a hallway, but all all the doors pretty much were close enough that you could throw something at one of the siblings. The “Bedtime Rotation” went from youngest to oldest, and if my little sister and I were lucky, mom would let my sister hang out in my room while mom read a story to my little brother.

Even though my sister and I acted like we were playing with some toy or whatever, we’d both actually be listening intently to mom, and hoping she’d feel like reading to each of us too. I don’t know about my brother and sister, but I cherish the memories of mom reading to me as a child.

Why am I sharing this memory with you? Because I’m a little concerned about this whole digitizing Dr. Seuss thing.

There is a great concern about the amount of time two working parent households are able to spend with their children. By digitizing children’s books, I believe we are giving parents one more reason to get out of bonding with their children. It bothers me that parents will be able to turn on a digital formatted book, give the child the same paper version of the book and walk out of the room without spending valuable bonding and educational time with their child.

And consider this…there will be in the near future a whole generation of children who actually may never pick up a book to just read for pure pleasure. This is the beginning of the end for actual books. Its one thing to start digitizing books for adults. Its another thing entirely to begin digitizing the books that children read when they are learning to put words and sentences together. How long before we have a whole society of people who can’t focus on the written word? How will that work for the education system in our country when a large amount of our children all across the country don’t have the attention span to read passages in a text book, because they didn’t learn how to focus on the written word as small children? As adults, they’ll probably have better active listening skills, but will they be able to truly comprehend what they are reading?

I think this is really scary for the future of our society. I think if we aren’t careful we will make a severe regression to the times when the most intelligent people in society could read and write (see any time in history where scribes were employed). Look at it this way: technology has allowed us to send video emails; most people don’t actually write letters anymore; we spend a great amount of time text messaging with our friends and family using acronyms instead of the full spellings of words/phrases; and a very large majority of people don’t even sit down and read for pleasure or increasing their knowledge. OH! and there’s technology that can put your voice into text so you don’t actually have to write anything. What is the illiteracy rate amongst our school age children these days?

There are a lot of little people (children) in my life. They all have parents who spend time bonding with them, building relationships with them, and figuring out how to help them eventually become viable adults in the future. Most of these parents ACTUALLY read to their children, and the children see the parents reading in their spare time. How many more generations before we can’t say that?

How many generations go by before adults no longer have memories of their parents reading to them or of reading to their younger siblings?

I think this is sad. Is anyone else worried about this?

Please people, read to the little people in your life. Don’t sit them down with an electronic version of a children’s story (audiobook or a movie), because its easier after a hard day at work. The electronic babysitter is not adequate in teaching your children valuable relationship skills. Relationship building skills starts in the home, from the time children are infants, with mommy and daddy. And reading to your children is a good way to facilitate the development of these skills.

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