My son reads most of the time from a computer screen. While reading he Googles everything that he doesn’t understand, and jumps from one Wikipedia page to another, forgetting about the original text he was reading.
The mom in me dislikes this behaviour, to feed the beast of curiosity with a shallow knowledge. I am afraid that the flat screen will prohibit him of developing his imagination and that he will miss out on the joy of fantasising colourful sceneries with exotic scents and tastes in which the novel characters live. To immediately satisfy the curiosity cannot be good for a child’s imagination, or am I just getting old?
A couple of weeks ago, I forbid the screen time entirely and encouraged him to read a book instead. “Why?” he asked. “I am reading. You know mom, it is not the 80s anymore, people don’t read books.” Eventually he was bored and got a taste of the 80s by reading an old fashion paper book.
Later that week I told one of the students, lets call him Mr. Curly hair that I was going to the library with my children. “Library? Do they still exist?” said Mr. Curly hair with a shrug. It made me worried that the existence of libraries seem not to matter for the young generation.
To be exposed to the smell of old library books and to stroll around the library and borrow as many adventures as small arms can carry should be a part of every childhood. Possibility to travel through time and space, follow Frodo Bagger and his inherited ring, solve mysterious with Sherlock Holms and Dr. Watson, follow The Famous Five on their adventures, hide from the Nazis with Anne Frank inside the dark and damp secret annex at 263 Prinsengracht or fantasise how the Family Moskat lived their life pre World War II in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Poland.
Mr. Curly hair ended up as a smart, hardworking and pleasant young man, despite the lack of library visits, I am confident that so will my son. However, next time we will go to the library with the children I will bring along Mr. Curley hair, it is time for him and his young friends to visit the library, so that they can fight for its existence. A society without these rich reservoirs of knowledge and fantasy would be a very poor one.