Reading to Children

August 5, 2013 — 9 Comments

grandparent readingAs a father whose military service required extended separations from my children, I wish technology had been about three decades more advanced than it was while I was in uniform.

As a grandfather who has most of his grandkids living hours away, I’m grateful to be alive during an era when we can still nurture close relationships despite geographic separation.

There are many wonderful ways to keep in touch across the miles. And, a new program adds a wonderful touch to the time proven joy of reading to our children. It’s called Kindoma, and more about it momentarily.

It’s a little known secret that there are few—very few—activities children love more than reading with a loved one. It’s not just about the book, it’s also about relationships and bonding.

C.S. Lewis had an interesting relationship with children. As a bachelor academic, he was not around them all that much. And when he wrote The Abolition of Man in 1943—before becoming a step-father—Lewis confessed “I myself do not enjoy the society of small children . . . I recognize this as a defect in myself—just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind.”

Eight years earlier, at the modest age of thirty-seven, he wrote to a good friend, “I theoretically hold that one ought to like children, but am shy with them in practice.” Lewis isn’t alone in possessing this unfortunate trait, which from my observation [political incorrectness alert] is more common among men than women. Of course, in our increasingly equalitarian culture it does seem that character flaw is becoming a bit more gender-balanced.

Then there is the fact that many of us who dearly love our young progeny, enjoy the children of our friends, and hold genuine compassion for young ones suffering in any variety of miserable conditions . . . do not particularly seek out the company of children. From my personal perspective, I feel like I “expend” all of my (admittedly finite) kid-patience with my own kin and the offspring of my friends. I don’t have a surplus left after spending a significant amount of time with the (precious) little ones.

And, like Lewis, “I recognize this as a defect in myself.”

At the same time as I admire teachers who can pour themselves into little ones, and I am absolutely dumbfounded by people who prefer working with young teenagers, I recognize that the world works well when some of us are better equipped to work with adults also . . . so the entire spectrum of learners is served.

Recognizing our own prejudices is a prerequisite to suppressing or evicting them. Lewis, of course, was extremely concerned about children and their upbringing, particularly their education.

Returning to the subject of how to nurture relationships with children through the intercontinental reading of books, technology has made the miraculous possible.

Kindoma is novel in the sense that it allows you to read the book together (either the child or the adult can be the actual “reader”) while you actually turn the pages of the etext together! So you get the genuine experience of reading together.

The creator of the program holds a PhD in Computer Science. So he’s not merely an idea guy (like me) who comes up with a slew of amazing concepts but doesn’t have the scientific skill to make them reality.

The program is currently available for ipod and ipad. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before it is ported to other operating systems. Since I still use “regular” desk and lap-top computers, I haven’t experimented with it myself. The app itself is free. I’m unsure about their revenue stream, whether it will come from ads, or purchase of access to a specific library, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

The brief link below offers an introduction to the tool. I hope that you will use it if applicable to your situation, and pass it on to others you know who might benefit from it. (In the meantime, I’m thinking about approaching my wife about us making that ipad purchase I’ve been pondering.)

9 responses to Reading to Children

  1. 

    That’s really cool! Our kids have an iPad and I do, too, so we could use this when our grandkids can’t come over. I’ll have to check it out!

    • 

      Glad to hear it may work for you. Let me know what you think of it. I’m sure, like most successful software ventures, they they will only continue to add quality and versatility as time passes.

  2. 

    My just-turned-three year old is a book nut among a family of bookworms. There are some days where he would be happy to sit on my lap and read hour after hour.
    Books make it almost too easy to connect with kids- at least as long as you’re careful to pick stories both of you are happy with (we have a handful I flatly refuse to read).

    • 

      Wonderful. You’re right about the importance of choosing the right books. Some I am “challenged” to read the first time, and since they love the familiarity that comes from rereading and rerereading… yes, needs to be something both child and adult enjoy.

  3. 

    Neat concept. Some technology is overkill and takes away from real life, but I’m glad when they develop things that help family stay connected. Encouraging reading is a plus too. Long gone are the days when I had to walk to a pay phone just to call my grandma or dad.

    • 

      Yes, it’s encouraging to see technology used for healthy ends. In these cases, (just like I encourage one of my grandson’s to act), technology “uses its powers for good.”

  4. 

    WOW. This is amazing. Part of the pre-reading skills that must be learned is recognizing that the lines and squiggles are oral language that is put in a form that always says the same thing every time it appears – and the reader see that and follow along with their finger and eyes. Nothing teaches a child to love reading more than a parent taking the time to read with them and enjoying the story. This way the child is involved and not passive.
    There’s all sorts of good solid reasons to use this with kids.
    Some groups have done a good job of video taping/audio taping military dads and moms reading story books and leaving those with the children – but this offers so much more.
    Hope the company can stay out of the hands of those who would only offer a limited range of titles and books worth reading.
    Chuckled over Lewis’ kid thoughts.
    Oh, get the iPad. My kid gave me a mini. Although I hadn’t really considered one, now I love it as it’s so portable.

    • 

      Great truths about reading. Not sure if I could get by with a mini though… I like big screens! What I need is a portable, pocket-sized, handy dandy computer that expands to a full keyboard and large screen when I unfold it. Wonder if they’ll ever invent one..?

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