I have recently had a very strange encounter with a bookstore sales person on my way back from Beirut to Doha, and those of you following me on Instagram Stories must have heard of it and many sent me shocked messages. I was asking about books for my twenty-months-old when the guy advised against them and instead recommended tablets, electronic games and videos. I suddenly found myself in a position where I had to defend my choice, but of course I turned a deaf ear to his uninformed advice and was able to find three books that helped me through the three-hour flight keep Jamie in check before we safely landed in Qatar.
I was born in the eighties, and my childhood was internet-free. Books populated my days and some of my nights, and I grew up to the masterpieces of Emile Zola and Victor Hugo. I developed a liking to words and semantic structures and this guided me in my career choice. I still read heavily, not always novels and not necessarily in paper form nowadays, but I always appreciate anything nicely written, and I may easily spend hours before a book stand, unable to leave with only one purchase.
I decided to introduce my little Jamie to books when he was two and a half months old. I was eager to fill his time with colorful pictures of animals and vehicles, and it helped foster one of the most beautiful bonds between us. It feels good to see my child sharing a passion of mine, and every morning I bring him a book and we spend some time going through it before my day starts.
Books have so far taught him to identify basic numbers and letters, to recognize many animals and make their relevant sounds, and even to distinguish between all the different types of trucks and vehicles which he is passionate about.
Books keep him distracted for a long time, be it first thing when he wakes up or during the day. This is especially handy when I need him to stay calm while I am off to finish some stuff around the house.
This is not to say that we are a video or tablet free household. On the contrary, our phones and screened devices are a quintessential part of our lives. I work, blog and navigate my social media accounts through my phone and laptop for at least two hours a day, and my husband does the same. Jamie is fond of his truck related videos, and he watches them every day. He also watches song videos for kids and some educational shows, that have so far taught him a lot as well.
Many do not foresee the survival of books against the huge tide of electronic devices. They predict that the prevalence of e-learning and the internet of things will end the era of books, and maybe even handwriting. I’d like to think this day will never come on my watch. I will do everything I can to save this passion of mine and convey it to my little one. I want him to be as big of an avid reader as I am, because I truly believe this will strengthen his imagination and creativity, and provide him with a break from the overly connected world.