If you are like me, you tend to think that screen time is the enemy of reading. After all, digital media can be pretty addicting, for adults as well as kids. It can be hard for books to compete with lights and sounds and moving pictures.
However, I think there can be room in most kids’ lives for both books and screens. We live in a world where it’s nearly impossible to get rid of all digital media. In my view, we need to find a happy medium.
But finding that balance is not what we’re here to talk about. What I want to tell you is that digital media and book are closer friends than you realize.
I can’t speak for every family, but I’ve noticed some surprising ways that movies, videos, electronic games have caused our family to occasionally read more than we would have otherwise.
Yes. You read that right. Digital media has made my kids read books they might otherwise never have picked up!
But that doesn’t mean I’m always excited about it. For instance, a few years ago, my husband bought the Xbox Lego Lord of the Rings game for our son. I was horrified. I was certain it would ruin the book for him. He would never want to read it after playing the game; it gives away most of the storyline after all! Yet my son–not my biggest reader at the time–proceeded to beg to read Lord of the Rings for himself. At age nine. This is a kid who previously only read picture books and graphic novels begging to read a book which I normally would recommend for high schoolers and up because of the complexity of language and plot. One year later, and it’s his favorite book ever. But that interest began with a video game.
My daughter, on the other hand, is a huge reader, but she primarily reads fiction. I had tried to get her interested in reading a missionary biography a while back, but she didn’t bite. That is until we started watching some animated missionary biographies by Torchbearers (free for Amazon Prime members). After a couple of episodes, I suggested the biography again, and she devoured it in less than twenty-four hours!
But maybe this shouldn’t surprise me. After all, in high school, we watched (instead of reading) Pride and Prejudice (yes, the amazing BBC version) and The Scarlet Pimpernel, both of which I made sure to read for myself after loving the movies.
And how many of us have been inspired to read a book either before a big movie comes out or because we loved a movie or TV series based on a book? I know I have more than once.
So make friends with your TV (and maybe even gaming system). It can be your ally more often than you might think.
Has digital media ever inspired your kids to read a book?