Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

Old Advice for a New AgeThere are few things in life that can truly give a person power. Learning to speak multiple languages is one of those things. Becoming comfortable with mathematics is another, and learning to read is another. And one more: being able to read. There is incredible power in being able to read. In this era of technology, screen media, and audio and visual stimuli, we often overlook the power of simple literacy.

However, ask the parents of the four-year-old who can suddenly read the signs on the vendor carts at the State Fair—how hard is it to redirect the little blossoming literary critic to the parents’ agenda now that she can read “ice cream”? Just that little bit of knowledge has given that child new power and her parents new headaches.

Or ask the child, who can now read the ingredients required and baking directions on the box of brownie mix—now that child has the ability to make brownies without needing hand holding from a parent every step of the way.

Reading gives you the power to escape into a new world, like the one that only appears on extremely foggy days on Newfoundland (Fog Magic). You can tell stories with Gooney Bird Greene (my new favorite kids ‘series). You can follow the everyday misadventures of Anne (Anne of Green Gables) or read a biography that has you laughing and reading passages out loud (John Cleese, So Anyway). Being able to read takes you to new places, allows you to learn new things, and even imagine yourself in historical events (ever read any of the Magic Treehouse books, Orphan Train or The Book Thief?).

You can, imagine this, even read the hints and directions throughout the Skylanders video games—so that you can find the all of the treasures and special Easter eggs in the program. So, yes, even avid gamers can find power in literacy.

I love that my daughter insists on story time before lights-out every night, and my husband and I get to gather with her on her bed to read stories. I love the “ah-ha” moments she has when she reads something and is able to act independently because she figured something out for herself.

Anybody can learn how to use an iPad or a computer at any time. Technology is designed with the user experience in mind—it’s designed to be intuitive. However, literacy takes a lifetime to develop. Patience and practice are required to develop and reinforce the neural pathways that make us literate thinkers. Technology is a only a tool; but becoming literate, that is what gives us the power to wield the technology with forethought and wisdom. So, put down the iPad, and pick up a book and work on becoming more literate in 2015.

©2015 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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