Monday, January 21, 2008

First comes love

The guilt I sometimes feel over the amount of TV my children watch--and the fact that Hamlet is not, as I was, an early reader--was assuaged somewhat today when I read this article (by way of Kassia Kroszer at Booksquare). To wit:

"We are in a muddle about literacy.... I'm thinking that education itself is in part to blame. Ironically, it may be responsible both for the great blossoming of our literature, and at the same time for leaving so many with the impression that literature is not for them, but the preserve of a certain educated elite. As a consequence, much of our society has become separated from its own stories."

What does this have to do with TV-watching? Well, as we drove home today from Borders, Hamlet asked to see one of the books we had bought him. That book was a Scooby-Doo mystery (a zombie story, no less). He looked at it for at least 20 minutes. And he would not have discovered Scooby-Doo had it not been for TV.

We love reading, but we often find ourselves at a loss for time to do so (largely because we're constantly responding to requests to play, when we aren't working, or cleaning, or taking care of baby brother). For himself, Puck has become quite the little book-lover, and not just because the cardboard tastes great. He'll spend significant blocks of time paging through board books, looking at animals especially, making their sounds.

I can't help but wonder if his interest in books is breaking through Hamlet's somewhat rigid idea that books are only for bedtime, if his car ride request is any indication. Meanwhile, Morpurgo's article tells me that I should back off the letter-writing, phonics, and other "education" and instead focus on the stories. My job, in other words, as a mother and a writer. If TV helps me with that? I'm halfway there.


Blogger Meg said...

YES. The stories *are* the thing. I think my kids both read so early because of having the stories read to them (so repetitively, arrgh!!) Once they realize what the point of reading is -- to give them access to even more fun stories -- they pick up on the phonics and letter-writing.

Don't beat yourself up, though. I think that modern society encourages this "looking at the trees" approach, so that it becomes almost impossible to see the forest.

And don't worry about not being able to read for your own pleasure -- those days come again, eventually. Hugs! You're doing fine!

23/1/08 6:14 AM  
Blogger Mary Louisa said...

Oh yeah--Sesame Street and Blues Clues books were a real hit for N and now are for AC, thanks to good ole TV. LOL We just spent two hours at our local B&N today, and all the kids asked me to read them were books FROM T.V. SHOWS!! I read a Sponge Bob book, two Curious George books (AC loves the program), and we played with Thomas trains and Backyardigan dolls. Yes, it's all thanks to the popular culture. LOL

23/1/08 4:34 PM  
Blogger Brent S said...

Getting a child to read is about getting them interested in something. We are big Scooby Doo fans at my house. We found that Scooby Doo books are a great way to get my son interested and on the path. The link is to, which has a lot of books to get a child started.

23/1/08 5:40 PM  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

My kids watched scads of tv and read all the time. Sometimes both at once. Don't sweat it. Your love of books will shine through.

24/1/08 7:08 PM  
Blogger Lyman said...

No worries, my runts both watched too much tv but it seemed not to harm them. They're 8 and 10 and both read more than they watch TV and both are in advanced programs at their school. My oldest just finished "Watership Down" his first full length novel and the youngest would rather read text books. He's currently reading "300 Dog Breeds." Kids are remarkable. They find their own way and when they do hit upon reading they'll devour books.

25/1/08 4:00 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Mom, I think the reason for that "looking at the trees" approach is almost a fear that we'll lose literacy if kids don't have the mechanics down pat first.

ML, Hamlet loves Curious George too! I don't mind the TV-book-reading, really. Or even the TV itself. It's served as a spur for Hamlet's imagination, and now we tell stories all the time. Plus, I really think shows like CG have spurred his own curiosity about the world. At the Children's Museum the other day, he was the kid asking the most questions about all the sea creatures in the tank!

Brent, thanks for that link! I have really fond memories of watching Scooby Doo with my cousins when I was a kid, and I love that Hamlet loves it too.

Patti and Lyman, thanks for the comfort about "too much" TV. I'm glad to see voices from the other side!

26/1/08 12:42 PM  

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