If parents want to raise readers in a digital age it is not enough to have books in the house or simply read those books. Parents are going to have to take it one step further. They’re going to have to do something.
Parent Jason Boog, author of “Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age” (Simon & Schuster), recently released a labor of love for parents. I know, I know, you might be thinking “one more book about raising kids who love to read is one too many,” but in this case, more is good.
I do caution all parents; it is not going to make bringing up children any easier. Let’s face it: Parenting is one of the, if not the hardest job out there. That goes without question.
An editorial review from the School Library Journal summarizes “Born Reading,” reiterating that if parents want to “ensure maximum nurturing and brain development” they are going to have to do more than just read. In other words, we are going to have to get up and go further in a real-time, real-life way.
The chance to do well in school is the chance of a lifetime. I don’t care who you are or where you come from, there isn’t one parent out there who hopes for their child to do poorly in school. In fact, a child struggling to keep up in school is one of a parent’s biggest worries.
So, lucky for us, Boog combs the brains of childhood-development experts, shares advice from librarians, and gives parents and educators helpful tips from authors and children’s book publishers, while highlighting reading recommendations.
And you guessed it — parents must start early.
In fact, the book states in the opening chapter “hospitals should be handing out interactive reading pamphlets along with diapers as new parents head home.”
Why not? We are talking about the health and welfare of our children. Although I worry that another parenting book is just preaching to the choir, I hope I’m wrong. Instead, I challenge all parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers who care about our kids to read it.
The book brings to light how difficult it is to raise a good reader, especially in a digital age. Instead of succumbing to digital overdose, Boog suggests parents take charge and choose those apps that encourage a safe environment for children to create and learn. Hence, I’m looking forward to exploring Toontastic and Lego apps with my grandsons. The ever-faster expanding world of digital media and the integral and inevitable role it has to play in our child’s education should make you want to at least check it out. Otherwise, our kids risk being left in the dust as technology speeds off into the future.
If there were ever a reason for cracking the books with our kids and providing a decent digital landscape for our children to thrive in, this is it.
If you follow Boog’s playlist, which is a sensible and worthy one, your child will have a good chance at staying in the game. I don’t have to tell parents that the academic world in which we grew up, one where memorization and spitting out information on a test, no longer applies. We have the information at our fingertips; what is really crucial is how we use that information. Now it is raising a reader who is able to ask questions and think about why the world works the way it does and what that might mean for a kid as a learner living in that same world.
When you read a book to your child, like “Goodnight Moon” for example, you might ask your child why there might be a lamp in a bedroom, or when the moon shines, or how a rocking chair works. If it is a favorite story, engage your child and invite him to tell you why. How does he feel when he hears the story? You might go outside together to look at the moon. You might talk about how far away the moon is from Earth, or read a moon poem, or find nonfiction stories about the moon.
If you want to encourage your child’s curiosity you have to engage in a dialogue that will allow your child to have an opinion. After all, don’t you?
“Any time a child spends on an electronic device should be as interactive as possible,” Boog says. But what exactly does that mean? We know the tried and true stuff like asking lots of questions and opening books together, but we are supposed to go further.
Go further! Get up and do something about it!
In other words if your child is interested in Dora then go out and get books that feature Dora and let your child read along with you. Ask your child to share her favorite stories with you in the car or at breakfast. Role play. Have your child take the role of parent or the teacher. Ask her to point out her favorite parts of the story. Let her retell the story to you. Ask her how she feels when Dora is facing a certain challenge.
Collin, my grandson, loves calling me into his “office” for “conferences,” and this is one way we read together. We also create books together. He draws pictures and he is writing his own text and sharing the stories that he is interested in telling.
When Robert brings me a book he wants to read we sit down to do it. When he draws a picture inspired by the story I’m not afraid to ask him to tell me more about it. These are some of the ways you can engage your young readers. And parents can’t begin this interplay too early. Start reading as soon as your baby arrives. It’s a tough world out there. If you want to give your kid a technological leg up, read early, read often, and engage your child beyond the book and into his real world.
Boog promises in one hour a parent can be shown how to get the reading ball rolling. My challenge to you is to tell me that I’m absolutely crazy to love this book.
Bonnie J. Toomey teaches at Plymouth State University, writes about families in the 21st century. You can follow Parent Forward on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bonniejtoomey. Read more at www.parentforward.blogspot.com.