I read this article in the NY TImes this week about e-books adding music to the “experience.” Champions of this technology justify it by saying it adds to the experience, enhances imagination, meets readers where they are, blah, blah, blah.
I have not yet worked out all the feelings I have about this, but I am down to one thing: Parents and teachers need to teach young readers how to hear the sounds that words on the page produce through the ear of their own imagination. Readers need to be able to create the characters and the settings in their minds through imagination. They need to learn how the cadence, rhythm and rhyme of the words produces the “soundtrack” that propels the reader through the book.
I’m often amazed at how some teachers and parents “give in” to their students by rationalizing they are “meeting the students where they are” by allowing them to choose the works they will read and by allowing the gamification of the skill of reading. Certainly you don’t start a young reader with the complete works of Shakespeare but you don’t dumb down the process either. All learning is gained through frustration. The harder the frustration, the deeper the learning. Young readers need guides and a hand to help them along, not someone who removes barriers or court jesters to provide entertainment along the way.
Young readers need teachers and parents to show them how to unlock and develop imagination that produces original human thought and kindles the spark that will create the next Rainbow Connection.
When we give up our imagination as readers, we willfully discard the skills needed to be writers. This I know for certain.
*Check out Dani Shapiro’s blog post for additional inspiration.