Screen-Free Week is approaching! From May 1-7 share in the joys of life beyond the screen and engage in activities that prepare your child for the future–such as reading! A guest blog post from Jean Rogers at Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood!
When I was raising my daughter, Kate, and her twin younger brothers, Evan and Scott, reading was an essential part of the bedtime routine. First we read a book, then sang a song, and then said a prayer. The routine was great, but there was one problem: at the end of the book, they always asked for one more book! On nights I had the energy, I obliged them-I enjoyed the books as much as they did. And even more than the books themselves, I enjoyed how each of my children experienced the stories differently, absorbing the characters, settings and phrases in their own unique ways.
One favorite was When Dog Grows Up, a Little Golden Book about a dog (named Dog) thinking about the different jobs he might have. Dog imagines himself as a race car driver, an astronaut, and an orchestra conductor. One night, when I read the page about Dog imagining he could be a police officer chasing robbers, Evan’s eyes widened. “That means someone else wants to be a robber when they grow up!” We all laughed together, taken by Evan’s astute observation. He’d processed the book in a way that Kate, Scott, and I had not!
Reach Out and Read gets it: the pediatric practices that encourage families to share books with their young children understand the positive impact families reading together has on children’s development. Unfortunately, while many families enjoy story time, it’s so easily displaced by apps, games, videos and TV shows. Modern bedtime routines often include a parent and child using separate iPads or other screen-based devices.
That’s why CCFC invites all families to participate in Screen-Free Week. During the week of May 1 – 7, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups and homes will celebrate the week-seven days when families give themselves the opportunity for more reading, more creating, more playing, more thinking, and more and more fun!
Families who participate in Screen-Free Week find out together what life beyond screens can hold. Even if screens are unavoidable for older children’s school work, reducing non-school, non-work screens for a week has opened new worlds of outdoor adventure and true family engagement through board games, screen free dinners, and lots and lots of reading. Learn more and register a Screen-Free Week event at www.screenfree.org.
And family reading doesn’t need to just mean parents reading to children: when Kate started reading independently, she often took over the book part of the bedtime routine. Reading to her brothers-everything from Richard Scarry’s picture books to the Box Car Children series to Charlotte’s Web-gave Kate a sense of accomplishment. They looked up to her, learning to love reading because she did. And now, as adults, they have close, happy bonds. Reading together didn’t just strengthen my children’s language development-it strengthened their relationships.
-Jean Rogers, Screen Time Program Manager
-Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood