As I was reading over different posts paying tribute to Maya Angelou this morning, I came across this quote: “The best candy shop a child can be left alone in is the library”. (Maya Angelou)
It reminded me of these posters I saw in one of Seattle’s public libraries, “5 best way to raise a reader”: read, talk, write and play with your children in any language. I never saw the 5th poster but I am guessing it is “sing with them”.
What a world opens up to a child when they discover books. First pictures and then when they learn to decipher the code of language and begin to read. Libraries are wonderful entrances to this world of books where imaginations take flight. This is where creativity begins: in the thoughts of a child.
For much of my children’s lives we lived abroad with little access to libraries. When we came back to the United States for breaks, one of the first places we would visit during our settling in time was the Library. We would get our cards then go pick out our books. I know my husband and I enjoyed this maybe even more than our children. I have memories of joining summer reading clubs as a child and going through the shelves picking out books. I was not a great reader as a child but continued steadily on to read year after year. Now it is one of my great pleasures. I read for pleasure as well as to learn and it all happens as I continue to expand my thinking and imagination.
Give the gift of books to your children. Take them to the library often. It will open the doors of their imagination. The best candy store ever, and it won’t rot their teeth! I know we have moved into an era where everything can be found on a screen, but the feel of a book in hand and a whole library full of them cannot be replaced.
This article brought into question the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for no screen time for children age 2 and younger, and no more than one or two hours screen time for older kids. She is encouraging more research regarding level of brain activity for children playing with interactive screens.
This was a Seattle study comparing the behavior of young children watching TV. This article explores whether children watching educational programs have less behavioral problems than children watching more violent programs.
I suspect there will be findings of more brain activity with a child using an interactive screen then with a child watching a video or TV program. I also suspect children watching educational programs will have less violent behavioral problems than children who are feeding on a steady diet of violent programming. There is one point I feel is being missed in both of these articles. The point is that any type of screen time is taking away from the vital time children need to learn the essential skills of being a person. These essential skills relate to imagination, creativity, socialization, and compassion in the real three-dimensional world. When a child is using any kind of screen they are not interacting with another person or with the real three-dimensional world around them. They are not making eye contact with anyone, not learning to read another’s face or body language. They are not developing and practicing language with another person, which is so important for developing their imagination and creativity. They are not using their whole body, mind and imagination to interact with the world around them. Physical movement is essential for brain development. The brain needs the body to move to develop and make connections. They are not learning to be patient, kind or loving with a real person. I am not saying that a child should never use a screen. What I am saying is parents need to be vigilant about screen time. Be wary of giving in to the temptation to hand over your phone or tablet to your small child. You may have trouble getting it back and they will want it more and more! Instead, keep playing with them, talking to them, reading to them and providing safe opportunities for them to explore the very real world at their fingertips. Make sure your child is not overusing screens in any form because if they are they will miss out on important experiences children need to grow into healthy happy adults.
For more information about this subject I strongly recommend reading: Parenting Well in a Media Age: Keeping Our Kids Human by Gloria Degataeno