Reading the newspaper articles today relating to the 30th Anniversary of the ZX Spectrum started me thinking back to those days with my trusty Commodore 64 (What a traitor I was!). Programming lines and lines from a book, only for it to fail and then spending four hours trying to fix it, fuelled a generation of programmers down the computing path.
However, did that mean we took out head from the reading book, and into the computer book/screen?
I am wondering if there is a correlation between technological advances, children and their reading habits?
I have three children, twin girls at 14 (really where did the time go?) and a son at 9.
The girls are great readers, even though they both have laptops, and have been through the Nintendo DS phase they still read most days. One slightly more than the other, but they each power through at least one book a week each
The boy is a different matter. We struggle to get him to read. He either reads books way too young for him (age 7 books), or seems to skip through books. According to his school he in the top group for reading, and has a reading age of at least 10 1/2, so books aimed at his age group should not be an issue to him.
We took the same tact with them all which is that they could choose their own books, and could pretty much read any book they wanted, as long as it was not too young or too adult for them.
So why the difference between them?
There could very well be an argument for a sex distinction. Boys generally are less mature with a shorter attention span than girls, so that could possibly equate for the difference. As an example, my girls read Lord of The Rings at age 9 (their own choice!), not phased that it was going to take months to finish (11 months in one case, and 5 months in the other)
When I look back to my childhood I read at every opportunity I could, even sometimes, taking a book out when I was told to “go and play”, so I could go outside and sit and read. But I did not get a computer until I was 10 (The Commodore 64 mentioned above, and 25 years later I still have it!)
When the girls were growing up, although only 5 years difference between them and their brother, technologically there was quite a difference. They did not have access to games consoles or handheld games. However, when he was growing up, his sisters had a Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, so he was very aware from a young age of the distractions available.
He seems to be lacking imagination, finding non electronic things boring and will easily give a book up if he isn’t grabbed within the first two chapters.
He seems to like fantasy books, such as Young Samurai and The Spiderwick Chronicles but would not even consider reading The Hobbit.
We are considering getting him the new Raspberry Pi to see if we can fuel some imagination back into him, to see if he can recapture the imagination we felt all those years ago when we turned on a computer, and were left looking at a blank screen.
That blank screen is very much like the blank page we all start off with when we write. To some it is daunting, it requires to be filled, and it is up to us to start adding words to it. But to some of us, it is a challenge, only limited with the ideas swirling round our heads, which have been aching to get out since the last time we looked at a blank page.
But then is that just imagination?