Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Lasting Effect of Books in a Technological World
Reading opens up a world of imagination to children Unlike television, the internet or even video games, where children are passive viewers or can see action unfold, books take actual brain power to decipher the story being read. Even if it is a picture book, children have to imagine the movements of the characters and create mental movies in their minds. Love of books sometimes serves as catalysts for children to create their own stories. Exposing children to books also helps when they start school.
Books give them ideas to feed and work on. Characters become real, are given a birth, a voice and reality by being brought to life in children's imaginations. A child's mind is virgin territory, slowly filled and changed by things they experience both real and imagined. So, characters, what they do, how they treat people, places they live and people who affect them, have an effect on the young reader.
The characters in children's books are often those with a moral to tell, a tale of good overcoming evil, morality, love, support and naivity. They feed the child's imagination - given the great skill of a truly good writer- and begin to take life. they also allow a child to take part in activities or events which are completely outside ther real life situations like wars, battles and plagues miraculous events or historically important times. Books allow a child to start developing empathy and understand the feelings of others.
The writer has the power to create in a child's mind whoever they like. They can also show the child a bigger world than the one they live in. Children's books can tell stories of distant lands,or other religions,customs or even places where people have completely different beliefs to them.
Older children can learn about emotions, responsibilities and relationships by reading. A book , unlike real life ,can be revisited and taken at the child's pace. They can read the same book at different stages or re-read passages so they have time to get the real essence from them and improve their understanding. They realize that their emotional response may be different at different times. Importantly, they realize that characters in books go through all the emotions and changes they do.
For the most part, children who enjoy reading perform better in school and develop critical thinking skills. These skills are necessary for any subject being studied. Children who enjoy books usually remain interested in learning for the rest of their lives. Often, they make better grades and score higher on standardized tests.
These skills not only help in elementary and high school, but they help students do well in college. As a tutor in college, I was confronted with students who not only didn't want to read, but didn't fully know how to comprehend instructions from their professors. Many of them admitted to me that they never read as children; therefore, they never thought it was important. It never ceases to amaze me how they made it that far in life without knowing how to critically think.
On the other hand, students who have developed a love of reading at an early age are easier to instruct, even if they have some sort of learning disability. They know how to work through the information in order to get the full meaning of the texts. Reading is imperative for future success.
In my opinion, books will never go out of style in their effects on children as long as parents and teachers encourage kids to read. There are always secret gardens to be found, characters from past generations to be discovered, feeding the minds of the future.