We were recently waiting outside of the doctor’s office; my husband was inside with the two having their wellness visits and I had the other five with me. There were many natural elements to explore and I encouraged the children to make nature pictures. One quickly ran with my idea to make a self-portrait out of sticks, hanging moss, acorns and stones. This inspired the others to collect ferns, flowers and stones and design creative sidewalk art with their findings. It was refreshing to observe.
Children should be encouraged to think outside of the box; perhaps we should say the screen? Children come into this world wired to learn, observe and explore. They absorb whatever is put before them; I wonder if that instinctive wonder is stunted by frequent screen time. Tablets, TVs, and phone time stimulate children’s senses instead of encouraging their senses to seek out the knowledge.
When children explore outside or build with blocks or dress up or create art or turn pages and study illustrations, their senses are actively engaging with the world around them and seeking out new knowledge. This is knowledge that soaks into their minds and memories and shapes their understanding of the world. Most importantly, the process of studying and learning and formulating thoughts makes them ready to think through new ideas and engage with them. To put it simply, learning makes thinkers and thinking is the heart of literacy. As popular children’s author Kate DiCamillo once wrote:
A good story changes how you look at the world. It encourages you to look past the obvious, the everyday. A good story grants you the permission to imagine. A good story gives you hope.
Another aspect of reading that can easily be overlooked is that it connects the reader with the past. It is actually possible for us to read what the great influencers of history once read and wrote themselves. What a priceless way to impact the future- using the lessons of yesterday to improve tomorrow.
Are we prepared to live in a world where people can’t look past the every day? Or can’t imagine? Or who lack hope? Are we willing to live in a world without readers?
I don’t think I am. And that is why I have started a subscription book club called The Growing Bookworms. Those who subscribe will receive monthly literacy support from me, a language arts teacher, as well as age-appropriate books and activity (or discussion) ideas that coincide with a theme of the month. If this interests you, reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your email info in the comments section of this blog and I’ll reach out to you.
Let’s grow a new generation of readers and thinkers.