Category Archives: fun facts
Original article published at Wired.com on March 8, 2017
When Your Kid Asks a Question, Hand Them a Book—Not a Phone
When my 5-year-old asks a question, is there a difference between looking it up in a book and just using my phone?
Recently, I watched David Kwong do some sleight of hand in a crowded theater lobby. Kwong is a magician who often consults on Hollywood films. (When a director needs, say, Jesse Eisenberg to learn a magic trick, they send him to Kwong.) Anyway, Kwong sauntered over to a guy with a deck of cards and asked him to pick one.
Honestly, I don’t know how to describe what happened next. For 30 minutes, Kwong made cards materialize in outrageous, stupefying ways, as though he were nonchalantly sliding them in and out of a parallel universe. Someone’s card flew out of the deck, spinning through the air. Another turned up in a guy’s back pocket—and not just in his back pocket, but buried deep, between his wallet and a bundle of crumpled receipts. Kwong asked someone to rip a card into four pieces, then hold them in his fist; when he opened his hand, the card was reassembled!
Maybe this doesn’t sound that impressive, written down. We all know card tricks are a thing. But the way Kwong kept relentlessly confronting us with the impossible—seeing this sorcery at close range—seemed to not just entertain people but to make them feel vulnerable and a little scared. People mewled and screamed, “No!” One poor man was reduced to crouching on the floor, laughing so euphorically he couldn’t catch his breath. (OK, that was me.) The guy with the ripped-up card in his fist refused to open it at first, shaking his head like a child terrified to look at his boo-boo, afraid of what he’d find. “He has total power over us,” one woman said quietly, gravely. She sounded creeped out. It was so much fun!
Now, I’m sure everyone in that crowd wondered how Kwong was doing it, but it’s a rare bird who goes home and actually labors to understand the mechanics of how such tricks are engineered. (Those rare birds become magicians—it’s how Kwong got his start.) Most of us perceive magic tricks to be unreplicable, to violate the reality we inhabit. They’re, you know, magic.
To a 5-year-old, phones are magic. The internet is magic. An older kid might be able to understand the technology and infrastructure involved, the nature of Wikipedia, and so on, but for a child so young, the answer just appears, miraculously, like a playing card yanked from a bystander’s back pocket. Leafing through a book together, by comparison, is a more collaborative, tactile, self-evident process. It’s a journey toward the answer, one that your child gets to go on.
What I’m talking about is the difference between learning and being told, between answering a specific question and getting a child excited about answering it on their own. It’s fun to amaze your 5-year-old, sure. But it’s more gratifying to set your kid up to one day amaze you.
These are four words I never want to utter. I don’t have kids and I don’t plan on it either but if I did I would never want to have a kid who hated reading. Can you imagine? A librarian who has a child who doesn’t like books? It’s probably inevitable now that I’ve said it out loud. If it ever does happen I will take comfort in this list of 10 tips for parents who have children who hate to read. Read the link for suggestions on how to implement beyond the tip.
- Establish a reading routine.
- Establish a library routine (yes, please!)
- Forget about progress.
- Withhold judgement. This one is so important!
- Try nonfiction.
- Set an example. Also, so important!
- Read aloud. Check out this other article about why reading aloud to older kids is so important.
- Read to discuss.
- Try audio books.
- Create a positive reading environment. My father-in-law has a dedicated reading room, and chair, in his house. It’s as if he physically can’t read anywhere other than there.
There are lots of other lists like this also.
8 ways to DIScourage reading! Don’t do these things!
Lastly, tips to foster great readers.
I signed up for Book of the Month. As if I don’t have enough to read (rolls eyes). But I couldn’t help myself. There was a Groupon for three months at $19.99. That means I could get 3 brand new hardcover books for $6.66 a book! Are you kidding me?? How can a librarian book addict resist that? Spoiler alert : she can’t. If you haven’t heard of Book of the Month, this is how it works. Each month you pick one book from a group of 5 books. Those 5 books are chosen by guest judges who write a little blurb on why they chose it. If you just can’t decide on one, you can add two more to your box for $9.99 each. Which let’s face it, is still a super big deal on a brand new hardcover. Not even Amazon has new hardcovers for that cheap. So far I am having the best time because well.. #bookmail. But also, the books are amazing! I can’t wait to continue. And I have decided I will continue even after my Groupon has expired. Stay tuned for the books I’ve chosen in January & February so far.
ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN by Gavriel Savit
FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie
FREEDOM OVER ME by Ashley Bryan
GHOST by Jason Reynolds – want to read!
THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill
THE LIE TREE by Frances Hardinge – have checked out ONE MILLION TIMES
MAKOONS by Louise Erdrich
MARCH BOOK THREE by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell – read book 1
THE PASSION OF DOLSSA by Julie Berry – have checked out HALF A MILLION TIMES
SAMURAI RISING by Pamela Turner and Gareth Hinds
SOME WRITER! by Melissa Sweet
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon
THUNDERBOY JR. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales
WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES by Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad
WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER by Grace Lin – read book 1
WET CEMENT by Bob Raczka
My husband and I have made some resolutions this year. I typically hate resolutions. I participate in book resolutions of course, Goodreads, Book Riot & this year Modern Mrs. Darcy, but that’s about the extent of it. This year we’ve decided to cancel cable to save money. We could read of course, but he doesn’t really like to read. I know, unacceptable. So this year we’re trying to be semi technology free when at home. Although some nights I’m sure we’ll watch TV or binge on something. After all, we still have Netflix and Amazon Prime.
It’s hard to find games that are good for only two people. I researched two person games and asked for them for Christmas so we have something to do other than stare at each other. So far we’ve played Dominoes and Cribbage. I have Hive, a game I’ve never played before, in the mail. We’ll see how that one works with two people. We played a great game on New Year’s Eve, Qwirkle, with some friends but I’m not sure how it would work with two people.
What are your resolutions? If you need some ideas I found this article to be super awesome. I will probably adapt some of them myself!