Remember when we all used to carry a book around in our bags? Whether it was a novel we were so enthralled with or a self-help book, having an actual book handy was a common thing. Now, with the rise of smartphones, you’re more likely to see a mom waiting in the bleachers at soccer practice checking email rather than reading. That’s fine and all, but this fall, however, buck the trend. Put down the phone and read an actual book.
Don’t get me wrong: Technology is a wonderful thing. I love being able to check email or catch up on news or make comments about a friend’s antics on Facebook. But the rise of one technology seems to have come at the expense of another, even while there is still great value in that other technology. Reading an actual book may be “old school,” but it’s old school in a very good way — and something no tweet can begin to match.
E-readers are terrific
If you have an e-reader, that’s great. E-readers are a tremendous step forward in technology that allows us to always have a book with us in a very compact, portable form. But are you using it? Are you keeping it with you and taking it out during those waits for your kids, or during lulls in the game. Get it out! And if it just doesn’t feel the same to you? Get an actual book from your shelves and bring that along, compact or not.
There’s something about turning pages
As great as e-readers are, there’s something about turning the pages of an actual book, that tactile, tangible experience that makes a difference for some people. In addition, there are some books just worth savoring: The classics (old or new), or some recent biography that just speaks to you to the point you want to make notes in the margin, or a book you know you’ll want to reread in a year or pass to your spouse. That act of turning the page or underlining a comment that made you laugh out loud — those are pleasures you need an actual book for.
Reading a good book — crafted writing from a master storyteller, or clear insightful descriptions of events or issues — is such a pleasure. It’s a small pleasure each of us not only deserves but also benefits from. When we read, whether novel or newspaper, we learn about the world, its cultures, different kinds of people, language and places. We make connections and conclusions and evolve our worldview.
As an example
As much as reading is a personal pleasure, it’s also a critical example for our children. If we want our kids to be literate, well-read individuals, they need to see their moms (and dads) setting that example. Insisting that our kids read (sometimes per a teacher’s instruction) when they don’t see us read — well, it’s a little hypocritical. Reading is a cultural act, and one our children need to see us doing more of. When the kids go back to school this fall, don’t resolve only to set more structure for homework time or protect downtime from over scheduling, resolve to engage in a critical learning activity right along side your kids. Read a book. Do it for them and do it for yourself.