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Put Aside Electronics and Read, Experts Say

Sarah Horrigan

Catholic Education Daily - published on 02/11/14

Human formation suffers without reading.

Reading has been increasingly replaced by electronics and endless activities in recent years, but parents should not give in, according to an article by John Burger at Fathers for Good, an initiative for men by the Knights of Columbus. 

Three experts—Joseph Pearce, Dana Gioia and Peter Kleponis—agreed that parents should be more active in getting their children to read.  If not, there will be sad consequences.

Human formation suffers without reading, said Pearce, writer-in-residence and visiting fellow at Newman Guide recommended Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.  He told Burger:

“Reading helps stretch our imaginations, which itself is very important”… It also expands vocabulary, allowing a person to communicate “far better, not only in childhood but throughout the rest of their lives.”

“We write as well as we read; we think as well as we read; we speak as well as we read. Our thoughts are in words… If you have a limited vocabulary, our very ability to think is hampered.”

The average American watches “14 hours a day of screens,” according to the article, and so electronics are a big part of the reason why reading is forgotten.

Unfortunately, people aren’t reading “traditional texts” during their many hours watching screens, said Dana Gioia, a Catholic poet, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and professor at the University of Southern California. Instead, Gioia told Fathers for Good, “They’re looking at films and videos, and when they’re reading, what they’re reading are photo captions.”

The Common Core State Standards might be another negative influence on the type of reading done by children.  Many have argued that the Common Core emphasizes informational texts that teach students how to absorb facts over traditional texts that foster human growth and development.

Peter Kleponis, a psychologist at the Institute for Marital Healing, sees that families are suffering because they are not spending time together.  He asks families how often they read books together and if they spend time at the library.

Fathers for Good reported Gioia’s solution for parents:

"So what parents should do when [their children are] younger is read to them so they get used to hearing words, rather than just watching television. And then as the kids get old enough that they don’t want to be read to anymore, have them read. Take the iPad away. Turn the TV off. Turn the computer off. Be confident that as a parent you know some things better than the kids do, no matter what the kids tell you."

Courtesy Catholic Education Daily of the Cardinal Newman Society

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