EDUCATION: More than job-training

Beware Talking Books

As the holidays approach, television ads for “educational” toys proliferate.

The product that disturbs me most is a line of electronic reading devices that enable children to read a book by themselves.

These books “talk.” They deliver the text word by word.

What a HORRIBLE idea.

Too many children and adults already read as if they had no notion of the sense of what they are reading.

The public radio station I listen to has a local announcer who delivers her lines as if she were a non-human alien using a speech synthesizer.

Reading involves more than being able to call words one by one. Children should learn to read aloud fluidly, musically, even.

This Christmas, don’t waste your money on electronic reading toys that will damage your child’s ability to read well. The money you might spend on one of these “educational” gadgets will buy several good books.

Parents and grandparents have no business parking a child with a computer or a talking book. If they are serious about introducing their little ones to the love and joy of a good story, there’s a better way:

1. The adult sits in a comfortable chair with a good light at the side.
2. The child sits on the adult’s lap.
3. The child snuggles and feels loved.
4. The adult reads from a book with enthusiasm and vocal expression.

Don’t waste your child’s/grandchild’s brief stay at home. Too soon children are swallowed by public education and the popular media. Don’t park them in front of a TV or with so-called “educational” toys.

Interact with them. Stuff them with love and language.

This Christmas, don’t waste your money on books that “talk.” Buy real books or borrow them from the library.