Back in the mid-18th century before “children’s books” as we know them were created, other books were used to entertain children. Many books, rather than those with beautiful artwork we see in many printed today, were spelling books, school books or even conduct books. Honestly, I can’t picture reading my children books like these, but reading in any form is good for a child and creates a love of reading that in most cases never leaves them.
In many families, due to time constraints, various activities, jobs, stress or other circumstances, reading to our children has become less and less normal. Is this good for them? How do our children entertain themselves? Do they pick up a book to read for the sheer joy of where the words on the pages will take them? More often than not, the answer to that question is, "no!" I suggest television has become the “great babysitter.” Children have become so tuned into the television screen, they often don’t pick up a book unless required to do so!
I watched a movie not long ago on the life of Ben Carson where the mother decided her boys would no longer spend hours in front of the set, but rather read several books a week and write a summary of what they read. The end result of this behavior created an exceptional doctor. I’m not going to even remotely suggest every or any child who reads will one day become a doctor, but I firmly believe reading stimulates the mind a great deal more than sitting in front of the TV set, where no thinking is required.
Watching TV requires little or no energy or mind stimulation. You just sit there and watch. When a person reads a book, their mind must function first to read the words; then allow their imagination to create pictures, actions or scenes they are reading about in their minds. Before TV, this was a welcomed form of entertainment, along with other childhood activities.
What happened to marbles, chess, scrabble or other board games? What happened to watching the cloud formations and see who could come up with the coolest idea of what the shape was? What happened to using the imagination and creating a fort or doll house out of a cereal box, or any other countless things children can come up with when encouraged?
Our young people often lack motivation to be creative. I believe books help with that, as well as, being moderately restricted to usage of video games, computer, iPhones and other technological gadgets. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting any of these electronic devices are wrong, but there seems to be an imbalance and our children are paying the price.
We have over weight children everywhere, even sitting on the cusp of an obesity epidemic. We have children who haven’t a clue how to do anything except sit in front of the TV or a video game, which does nothing to stimulate imagination, who then eat and sit in front of the TV set again.
I challenge you to re-evaluate your own life first. Are you using your God given imagination through reading and creativity enabling you to be inspired in an area you find interesting (or challenging!)? When was the last time you read a book? Are your children dependent on electronic devices for their primary entertainment, or are they using their God given minds, stretching them to think, create and process constructively through other means, especially books?