Many congratulations to Shirley Hughes who has become the first recipient of the Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award.
Interviewed today in the Daily Telegraph (Click here for the full article) Hughes makes the point about the attractions of mobile devices: “Bloody phones! They are such a terrible distraction; children love them and I understand why because they are instant and whizzy. Books, on the other hand, need — deserve — space and time.”
We couldn’t agree more!
A good book, of whatever level, can be just as engaging and engrossing as any multimedia.
Whilst there are many beneficial multimedia activities that can assist with a child’s development, allowing these activities to dominate is detrimental, (and it is not just about reading but experiential things as well, such as the great outdoors). One of the most important things in development is to stimulate imagination and creativity. Reading a story or book means that the reader has to actually imagine the situation and picture, in their own mind. Not just what the characters look and sound like, but the entire scene including every single description that the author provides is converted from words to mental images. With videos and games everything is already provided, both visual and aural, meaning that it is encouraging passive consumption, rather than an active imagination.
Imagination is neither an indulgence nor an irrelevance in modern life. Without imagination there can be no creativity and without creativity not only would we have no art, but we would also have no science or technology. The single best example of this is Leonardo Da Vinci. A man with a prolific imagination who demonstrated consummate creativity in both the arts and science.
As technology increasingly dominates our world in order to prosper, above all in the United Kingdom, we have to add value using our minds not our hands, and that relies on developing creativity in our children.
As Hughes herself said “children need books, not screens”. Well, we believe benefits are to be had in both, but reading books for pleasure seems to have become a poor second choice for many of our children and indeed parents.