Baby’s asleep. Dinner’s been cooked and eaten. Kitchen’s tidy. Ish. And the hub and I are on our respective couches.
‘What’re you doing?’ I ask.
‘Reading,’ he answers.
But, is he? He has his iPad in his hands and, if I know him, his ‘reading’ is a combo of exploring tech reviews, researching gadgets, browsing images of beautiful machines, watching TEDtalks and yes, possibly reading. Using the Kindle app.
We both still read ‘real’ books – me more than he. As a writer, real books are an occupational hazard for me. But the definition of reading has changed in our home.
As far as our one-year-old is concerned, ‘reading’ is what happens when we sit side by side with her, paging through a book. We read the words and point out the pictures, or ask her what noise different animals make, or where the Gruffalo’s nose is, and she turns the pages. Sometimes, she reads to us. Sort of.
There’s also iPad time. Where our toddler enjoys Dr Seuss books being ‘read’ to her by cheerful apps. But she has far less patience for that than for reading by me. And she has electronic books, where the page ‘sings’ nursery rhymes (in the most irritating, affected accent I’ve ever heard and one that plagues my nightmares).
What I’m trying to say – no, this isn’t just a pro-gadget product placement article – is that, today, there are different kinds of reading. And whatever device you use or don’t use, and whether it sings and snorts or simply sits in your lap, as long as you’re doing it with your child, it counts as reading. I believe that time together, heads close, is just as important as the actual words or pictures on the page.
A treasured memory of my grandmother, who passed away many years ago, is sitting on her kitchen floor in the suburbs of Port Elizabeth and having Agatha Christie (I know, right?) read to rapt three-year-old me. Sometimes it was cookbooks and issues of Readers’ Digest. Sometimes, believe it or not, it was Bible stories.
I’ve loved books ever since – but the togetherness of it was so much more than the medium or the content. Bottom line? When it comes to reading to your littlies, how you do it and what you use to do it aren’t important. It’s simply that you do it. Enjoy.
This article was originally written for Jozikids by Tiffany Markman in 2012.
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