Do kids still read stories or is it all about the screen now?
My seven-year-old granddaughter like so many children nowadays likes her daily allowance of screen time. On the tablet she shares with her sibling she watches movies, YouTube channels and also plays games.
BUT she is also a keen reader of books – something that gladdens this reader’s, writer’s and former teacher’s heart.
In fact having graduated from picture books to those with chapters she’s recently become a proper little bookworm. And her parents are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the demand for more and more books.
The benefits and joys of reading
While I sympathise with the parents, I feel even more for my granddaughter in her pursuit of reading material. I too was a keen reader from the moment I could decode print. Reading was my passion and my pastime of choice – it still is. Reading fuelled my imagination and inspired me to write my own stories – and it still does.
For all ages and stages in life, book reading educates and stimulates, but it can also provide comfort and escapism. It worked for me, for my children, for my school pupils, and in my (not so humble) opinion book reading is as important now as it has always been.
Access to books
As a child I was fortunate to have a library within walking distance of my home. My granddaughter – like so many children now – is not so lucky. So this got me thinking.
I can’t do anything to improve library access, but I can buy books. So I’ve set up Grandma’s Book Club (GBC). And the way it works is once a month I buy a book or two for my granddaughter – and for her wee brother, who’s also developing bookworm tendencies – and I post them from here in Scotland to my grandchildren in Australia. GBC is proving popular and it means that much of my video-call time with my granddaughter is taken up with book talk – which is so lovely.
Old classics and contemporary stories
At first I picked the books and hoped for the best that they’d be enjoyed. Some have been by authors my children (and former pupils) enjoyed back in the day, and some are much more recently published. It’s encouraging to see there still remains plenty of choice. And feedback received seems to suggest I’ve chosen well. My granddaughter has enjoyed reading about children engaged in pastimes and sports she hasn’t yet experienced, she’s enjoyed and been informed by how children can deal with problems and setbacks, and she has been inspired to ask questions and seek out information.
And lately I’ve also started receiving specific book requests – most recently for books in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. This made me smile as, like so many others over the years, Enid Blyton’s books formed a large part of my own early reading material.
And it got me thinking about the books that made the biggest impression on me during my primary school years (age 5 to 12) and whether my granddaughter would like them too. It also had me reminiscing about how much they meant to me at the time – and still do. And I was delighted to find that, like Blyton’s books, some of them are still available today.
Long live childhood reading
So it’s safe to say I do think childhood reading matters. It matters because of the reasons stated above and it matters because it opens children’s minds to possibilities, to connections with the past present and future. And it matters for its own sake – it’s just so mightily marvellous!
What do you think?
PS: I know I haven’t mentioned e-readers versus paper books (especially for children) but that would take up a whole other post. For this post all I’m on about is the importance and enjoyment of childhood reading in general with particular reference to paper books. But feel free to offer your opinion on this below.
PPS: Do you think book reading remains important and relevant for today’s children? Or do you think that online pursuits are taking or will take over for good or ill? Please do comment below.
My Top 10 childhood favourites
And to finish I thought I’d share my own ten favourite childhood reads from back in the pre-historic era – and here’s hoping at least some end up on my granddaughter’s list.
Mallory Towers (series) by Enid Blyton
Famous Five (series) by Enid Blyton
The Mystery of … (series) Enid Blyton
Heidi (and sequel) by Johanna Spyri
What Katy Did (series) by Susan Coolidge
Jill and the Perfect Pony by Ruby Ferguson
Ballet Shoes by Noel Stratfeild
Peter Pan by JM Barrie
Little Women (series) by Louisa May Alcott
Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
What about you? Would you say you were a childhood bookworm? What would your Top Ten childhood reads be?