ReadAloud.org's summer campaign is a simple, but poignant message: "There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." While the words are from Mary Ellen Chase, an educator and writer, the sentiment is felt in the hearts of many, especially my own.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with countless technologies, gadgets, toys, and games that are presented as the ultimate in childhood education. What to learn to count? There is an app for that!
However, there is no replacing the moments of quiet reflection shared with a child while reading a book- the feel of the pages between your fingers, the look of the illustrations that transport you to faraway places, and the conversations that spark from listening to the stories in the books.
Books bring you to places you would have never dreamed, and they teach you about cultures you may have never known. One of my dearest friends just returned from Australia and she brought me this fabulous book- How the Birds Got Their Colours: An Aboriginal Story, told by Mary Albert and compiled by Pamela Lofts.
I never would have found this book on my own, but in sharing this book with my daughters I was able to bring to them important aspects of another culture. My youngest loves the bright colors in the paintings of the birds, and my oldest loves the idea of dreaming stories being told and passed down to future generations. My oldest is always asking me to tell her stories my grandparents used to tell me, and she liked that this story was retold by a woman who had learned it from her mother.
Tonight, I asked my oldest why she liked reading books, mainly because of the Readaloud.org message. She responded by saying she loved spending time with me. First, hearing that warmed my heart. Then it got me thinking, maybe books are irreplaceable because they promote the sharing of stories in a way that other media cannot. We share so much more than the stories when we are reading during those moments before bedtime. We share hopes, dreams, fears, laughter, giggles, and sometimes tears. We open door to other lands and find adventures in far off places. We learn about people, places, and animals that I never knew existed. But, most importantly, we share time. And there is no substitute for time.
Check out ReadAloud.org's website to learn more reasons why there is no substitute for books.