After the release of the new Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) for which there were the midnight book release parties, this was a good reminder of how the continual power of words which have been printed onto a page for shaping the lives of children.
The Role of Paper for Books
What is our opinion on the clear-cut role of paper for the use of book-books in the lives of children? One pediatric’s cause is the promotion of literacy for young children. At present, there is a program named Reach Out and Read. This is a system which is used for the parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to let them know how important it is to read aloud together and at every checkup, a developmentally appropriate children’s book is given away to families.
As it is very young children who are involved, board books are the first ones we give out as they are designed for being chewed, drooled on and even repeatedly thrown down from highchairs by babies who are orally discovering the world and young children who are trying to figure out the durability of items as well as testing out ways on how to get their parents to pick up what they have thrown away. However, the biggest attribute of the board books, as well as their durability, is that they encourage the parents to not only just pick up the books but to also make the animal noises, ask and answer questions and name the pictures.
Advantages of Having Books
Being an avid reader, I love book-books and have always had them in the house, I can’t imagine putting my daughter and sons to bed when they were little without them having books in their room, even if they were old books which had become tattered as well as having new ones which had just been bought. I do love to read books on my kindle but would not want to see the end of book-books either.
It should not be argued, that a child who loves reading will be worse off as a result of the “Harry Potter” chapters appearing on an eBook readers screen as opposed to the matched sets of the thick volumes which occupy children’s shelves everywhere. A child who has the remembrance of midnight parties in a bookstore or even returning home from college or high school and taking all or one of the books to bed can be an awesome thing when they are looking at all the seven books which have been stored on a shelf in a bedroom.
Effect of Electronic Media on the Brain
Currently, there is a great interest between pediatrics who are trying to figure out how the effect of the electronic media can have on the brains of children as well as their habits and learning styles. Younger children, however, are the ones who are taking steps in the relationships they have with books and stories as well as trying to also master the spoken language.
In 2014, a review by researchers on the studies of electronic storybooks looked into some ways in which the stories would help young children learn, as well as ways in which it could hurt was outlined. It was pointed out that for children with language delays, there were certain features of the electronic book that are able to strengthen the association between the image and word (animated pictures for example), and these may also be able to help children to put information together. It was thought that features which caused distraction and games could result in “cognitive overload” and this is seen to get in the way of learning. There is also the worry, that parent-child time could be taken over by screen time.
Studies into Interaction with Parents
In a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics on media use in children from birth to the age of 5, Dr Jenny Radesky who is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, as well as an assistant professor of Pediatrics based at the University of Michigan at Anne Arbor and one of the authors for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that children who are of preschool age are able to learn better when they have the interaction with an adult. She also indicated that children learn more and better when they do not have the distractions from any digital elements, and this is better when the elements are not fitting to the learning plan or the plot of the story.
JAMA Pediatrics published a small study in February in which researchers made the findings when looking at parents and their children who could be aged between 10 and 16 months interacting with each other, that fewer words or even other sounds were used by both the children and parents when playing with electronic toys, also, that picture books stimulated much more communication than with toys that are customary.
It has been noticed that pictures, as well as words, can do many things to a reader’s brain and we know from the long as well as glorious history and even the occasional inglorious historical periods of the printed word. Pictures and words can transport you into the life and adventures of someone else. They have the ability to stir your blood by arousing your outrage, sense of suspense, empathy and your sense of humour. Your brain though needs to take the words and run in all the different directions with them. It has been suggested from Brain imaging that when hearing stories, it can awaken visual images in the brains of children and can be stronger in children who are read to by their parents.
Dr. Radesky’s Thoughts
It was also said by Dr. Radesky that when parents are reading to children and speak about what is on the pages such as asking about the duck they saw at the river, will help the child to have a richer understanding. Because parents are able to offer questions and make interpretations on the book, this can take the experience for the child to a whole new understanding.
Parents have often commented that they like having that reading time with their children as sometimes it is the only chance they have to snuggle up with their child and therefore parents get a good feeling from reading to their children at the same time.
While a small child needs the help of a parent when it comes to reading stories because they are unable to tap the duck in picture to get it to quack, when you are able to read stories yourself, although you cannot tap the horse and be able to watch it gallop over the page, you learn that using your brain power can make the horse move as fast as you want it to, just like in the future when it will display young wizards on broomsticks as well as being able to sneak you in with them.
So, if you are a reader and as a child had various kinds of stories read to you, you will realise how easy worlds can be described and created for you right there on a page or even a screen if you decide to read on an electronic device when you are older. However, just as those early paper books offered the unlimited stories, if you can imagine the movement, the pictures will move and if you are lucky enough to be able to manipulate your parent, the duck on the page will quack. It’s all about knowing the right buttons to push.
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