Dear My Toy Garden friends!
The New Book of Knowledge. Oh, the hours I spent randomly selecting a volume. What will it be today? A with Atlantis? ardvarks? P with Paris? pygmy goats? I'd run my fingers bump, bump, bump down the spine of the books, slow to one and slip it from the shelf. I'd feel the happy weight of it on my lap and the silky edges of the pages, smell the musty scent of secrets to be told. Balancing it on the spine, it would kerplop open unveiling the newest treasure to be explored, the newest world to travel to, the newest friends to meet.
It was a sad day for me when encyclopedias died. The Kindles, Nooks, Iphones, etc...all have their place of importance in our lives. I argue today for the belief in books...real books with real pages. Sure we can read away on our electronic devices but we lose a major sensory input of pleasure from the "old fashioned" experience.
Children are missing major sensory input from many of their play experiences today. Once upon a time, children climbed trees and felt the bark against their skin, smelled the pine sap, saw the light dance through the leaves, tasted the fruit that was tucked away, heard the squirrels jump from branch to branch. Now they virtually climb trees on Ipads and watch Angry Birds fly about. I'll venture out on a limb here and say that I believe this loss of sensory input is, in part, a factor in the skyrocketing number of special needs children we see today.
All is far from lost though. We, as the adults, can make a difference! Start by enjoying sensory experiences yourself. Take time for a leisurely lunch with a friend to be fully present in the moment. Back away from your electronics. Spend some unconnected time with an old fashioned book, puzzle, go for a walk. Go climb a tree.
Second, have books available all over your house. We have books in our bedrooms, living room, kitchen, playroom and every bathroom has books. I call it my pee and read philosophy. In the time it takes you to sit and pee, you can read a page that will inspire, inform or uplift you in some way.
Third, set expectations and limits for your children. They really can be happy disconnected from electronics. We do not have cable in our house and love the freedom it gives us. We do 5 hour car trips without a DVD player with 2 small children. How? Any change is hard at first, especially if unhealthy habits have been allowed to form. If you give a new habit 21 days of consistent effort and you'll soon find that you wonder why you didn't make changes sooner. With March is Reading month officially here, now is a good time to snuggle a child close to you, slip your finger down a bookshelf, kerplop a book in your lap releasing it's sweet scent and go on an adventure!