At a family gathering over the weekend, my sister brought a recently purchased copy of Goodnight iPad, a parody of the children’s classic Goodnight Moon. As parents of toddlers, we all browsed the pages, laughing at the updated “goodnight iPhone, goodnight charger…” text and graphics. However, while a part of me saw the humor in the book, and I admit, recognized how my own 3 and 5 year olds are more familiar with the terms “iPhone” and “iPad” than they are with a “bowl full of mush,” a part of me was also saddened by the realization.
The next week, I shared this with a group of co-workers, who recalled similar conversations with family members over the loss of bedtime stories as a ritual among today’s children. In fact, a recent story in the “New York Times” even covered it. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s great to have electronic devices at the ready to tell my children stories, or keep them entertained in waiting rooms, store lines, or while I’m cooking dinner. I would even advocate for the benefits of many e-games and stories, and say they’ve improved my children’s comprehension of letters, shapes, and numbers. And I, along with many other parents I know, are often shocked (and quietly proud) at how easily my toddlers pick up electronic devices and seem to have a natural knack for using them.
However, reading – real books – to my children is a cherished bedtime ritual as well, and one that I am disappointed to hear people argue is no longer the “norm.” As we delve further and further into the realm of gadgetry, e-reading, and always being “connected,” I think it’s ok that parenting and storytelling shift along with the times. As all generations note, everything in moderation. However, I agree that important rituals of reading, telling bedtime stories, and even visiting local libraries on a regular basis are childhood staples my generation must not lose.
So, in the spirit of celebrating the value of reading real books and stories to children today, and into the future, I asked a few Jewish Community Services staff members for their favorite “suggested” bedtime reading for young children (in addition to listing a few of my own):
– Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
– Time for Bed, by Mem Fox
– The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
– If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (or any If You Give books), by Laura Numeroff
– Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch
– Jamberry, by Bruce Degan
Here’s to that antiquated parenting ritual of opening up a book, turning real pages, and allowing our imaginations to wander along with our children’s – even if our iPhones are charging in the next room…
By Alison Dodge, Development Coordinator, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
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