Column: Gadgets cannot replace everythingI heard something on the radio the other day, and I have to say, it disturbs me quite a bit. Apparently, there is now an app that parents can get on their smartphones or iPads or what have you, that will read the popular children’s book, “Goodnight Moon,” to kids. For a mere $4.99, you can purchase the app and let the computer do the talking. Literally.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
I heard something on the radio the other day, and I have to say, it disturbs me quite a bit. Apparently, there is now an app that parents can get on their smartphones or iPads or what have you, that will read the popular children’s book, “Goodnight Moon,” to kids. For a mere $4.99, you can purchase the app and let the computer do the talking. Literally.
Now, I’m not a parent. Not by choice – my path through life just hasn’t afforded me that opportunity. So I guess I can’t say that if I were a parent, my time would be so full and filled that I would be grateful for the opportunity to have something – not someone – else read to my children. But I’m guessing that would not be the case.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m stumbling through the technological evolution. I have a cell phone that is long overdue to be upgraded. We have a laptop, but I just bought us a printer a few weeks ago. I don’t have a smart phone, I don’t have an eReader. I schedule my appointments mostly in a personal calendar bound by a zebra-patterned cover, and it works just fine.
I do Facebook, I’m on Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn. I’ve got three separate email accounts. And I know there is so much more out there online, just waiting for me to tap into it and learn some new skills. Getting to know new programs is exciting and challenging and time consuming.
But I’m still a little old fashioned in some things. Like sitting down with a good book. My personal preference is still to curl up with a book. A real, page-turning, hardcover or paperback book. One where you can see, by marking your page, how much farther you have to go before you get to the end. One where you can read the last page and try to figure out what happened in between. A book.
Granted, I may feel differently if I had an eReader. But that’s the point: I don’t feel the need to buy one because I have books.
And I had books when I was a child. Real books. Which brings me back to this “Goodnight Moon” thing.
In my baby book, my mom wrote, “Michelle loves books.” My mom was an elementary school teacher when I was born, and she took reading to me very seriously. We had my great grandma Leonard stay with us for a few years when I was a child, and I can remember sitting in our living room in New Ulm with Gramma, her reading to me.
I remember not being able to read, but “reading” books to my baby brother when I was 5, and really reading them to my baby sister when I was 13. These days, I read books to their kids.
These days, my mom, now Gramma, has countless books around her house. In the mayhem of having all of the grandkids together, it’s a sure bet that at some point, one of them is bringing over a book to read. My second oldest niece Rylynn is in second grade this year, and she’s very happy to sit down and read her books to me, instead.
But it’s not just the words of the books, or the pictures that make that reading time special. It’s getting cozy in the recliner with one of the kids, turning pages, using funny voices and making them laugh. It’s the human contact, the interaction, that makes reading books to kids special. And I believe it makes kids feel special, too.
Reading books became a fundamental part of my life. I knew, at age 10 – in my Nancy Drew and Betsy Tacy days – that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. That’s how much of an impact books had on me.
When I think about the idea of sending a child 3-year-old child off to bed with a cold piece of plastic that will “read” a bedtime story to the child, it breaks my heart. I know there are many parents out there who, like me, could not conceive of doing something like that. But just the fact that an app has been created for that very purpose tells me there are others who would.
There are a lot of good things out there when it comes to technology and gadgets, good things that make life easier. But in my mind, there are some things gadgets cannot replace – like spending time, reading with a child.