Friday, November 26, 2010

Once upon a time.

There is a commercial currently running on television that makes my blood boil. It is not a political advertisement. It is not a spot for Rachael Ray's talk show (the existence of which makes me believe the Apocalypse is coming soon.) It's a commercial for a product for children that makes me want to throw things.

The opening sentence of this idiotic example of why our society is deteriorating at the rate it is states that, "Once upon a time there were books." It then goes on to show a mother, holding her small child in her lap, reading to her with an e-book. The child is delighting in the tale of Woody and Buzz and learning how to read. Pictures are flashing, and the kid can also watch the story be acted out by the animated characters. Yay!

I don't know that I really need to point out what is so wrong with this advertisement. First of all, giving children and adults everywhere the idea that books are a thing of the past, and putting them into the same category as fairy tales makes me want to vomit until blood comes out of my mouth. What happened to the concept of literature, of words on paper that can transport your child into a world of imagination? Of rocking your child to sleep with a dog eared copy of Wind in the Willows or Charlotte's Web? Of perpetuating a tradition of a love for the written word? What happened to a parents vested interest in teaching a child how to read by themselves without leaning on technology to do the work for them?

I am not a parent, and I have no idea what it is like to raise a child in modern day society. I know that my parents both worked, and I was reading by the time I was 4. I have fond memories of voraciously tearing into any book I could get my hands on. My grandfather gave me a hardback copy of Anne of Green Gables when I was 7. I was reading Stephen King by the age of 10. Reading is what I do, what I love, and that includes not only the words on the page but the feel of the book in my hand, the musty smell of a used book, the crack of the spine...reading is a sensual experience for me. I see the colors, the faces of the characters, the places they go and I live, love, and feel what they feel. I've never been to India, but after devouring The Namesake I feel that I have been there. I'm not a time traveler, but I can imagine what it's like when I pick up a Spider Robinson novel.

I hate to imagine a time when books will become obsolete. I have been told how convenient it is to travel with a Nook or other e-reader. "You don't have to carry 2-3 books, it's so easy!" Well, I like carrying those books. I like boarding a plane knowing that nestled in my green North Face backpack are 3-4 different tomes with different cover art that are available to me should I get bored. I like carrying ten pounds of reading materials. I like using my thumb and pinky to hold a book open, and that my hand gets tired after 2 hours straight of reading . I like having the ability to put a cute bookmark into the back of the book for insertion into my stopping part for the night. I want to read to my children, and have them read to me, and delight in a quiet afternoon in front of a fireplace or on the patio with just the silence of curious minds and imagination at work surrounding me.

Please, if you are or want to be a parent someday, keep the tradition of the book alive. Hold on to those dear moments and don't allow our society to convince you that a computer can replace your voice, your time, your teaching. Read to your kids, and read for yourself.

That's my rant for the day. Happy Thanksgiving weekend, ya'll!


  1. I'm pleased to report that my kiddo asks to go to the library and/or bookstore daily. One of this week's lessons at his preschool was how to turn pages carefully and I was thrilled. I still remember the librarian at Grove Park teaching us how to treat books -- never dog ear pages, etc. <3

    Love the blog, Lauren.

  2. Katie, (as I am used to calling you!)
    I am pretty sure it was Grove Park that taught me that, too. I've always loved to read, but those library sessions really stuck with me. I still don't dog ear. Thanks for the love, and hope your kiddos are doing well!