Friday, September 27, 2013

Take a Look, It's In a Book

Growing up we didn't have things like Xbox and PS3. Minecraft didn't exist. MTV actually played music videos. Computers, if you were lucky enough to have access to one, consisted of floppy disks, the old Pong game and dot matrix printers. Pac Man and Atari were just being discovered. Boys could be found pushing their Hot Wheel cars, while making vroom vroom noises. Girls would be playing school and house with their friends. We made mud pies and ran in the rain. Kids had to be creative and use their imagination to have fun and keep themselves busy. 

I love computers and the Internet and my iPhone. Technology has allowed us to send people to live in outer space, has cured terrible diseases and given us the ability to be connected to anyone, just about anywhere in the world. But with all the benefits, there are days that I wish things would return back to the time when kids had to think for themselves and not rely upon technology to do it for them. A time where kids found enjoyment in books, rather than watching YouTube or increasing their risk for carpel tunnel from constant use of their video game controller. 

A few days ago Emily and I went to a college application essay writing seminar. The speaker stressed the importance of reading and how in today's busy and technology-driven society reading is no longer a priority for many. How good readers breed good writers, and good writers are something colleges look for in their admission process. It is something employers look for in an employee. She also went on to say that what you read isn't important –– just read. Magazines, books, newspapers, essays or reports on a topic that interests you, anything –– just read. 

Reading Rainbow was one of my favorite shows growing up. I was a huge LeVar Burton fan and was so excited that Reading Rainbow was still on-air when my kids were younger. As a child I constantly had my nose in a book. If I wasn't reading, I was writing my own stories. My parents helped foster my love for books. Even as an adult, my mom was always giving me books or sending me gift cards to buy something new. When my mom wasn't discussing Ohio State football or politics, she was discussing books. For several holiday's I would introduce my dad to a new author or series, to only have him tell me that he finished the books within a matter of a few weeks or sometimes even days. 

When I was pregnant with my children I used to read to them while they were in utero. I loved having them sit on my lap as toddlers while I read to them from some of my favorite children books. Then Emily and Chris got a bit older and their very analytical, number driven side came out. No longer did they want to read about Fudge's next adventure or what Judy Moody was doing, and as an avid book lover that made me sad. Sami still enjoys reading, and since she is horrible like her mom with numbers, I hope her love for reading continues to grow. 

So this is my challenge to you. Turn off the TV and computer. Open a book. Find a magazine. Buy a newspaper. Find something to read. Teach your children there is more to reading than just checking-off the mandatory 20-minute nightly reading assignment. Teach your children that books are our friends and that reading will teach you about some of life's greatest lessons. As Oscar Wilde once said, "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."