Whatever happened to the days of Reading Rainbow?

While sitting my students during lunch last week, one of them said to the table: “Did you know? at home, I have an iPad!”

Of course, this gets an entire conversation started because as it turns out, the budding new “iGeneration” was sitting right in front of me. Children of course will just discuss common ground at the young age of three or four-years-old, but as the convo furthered, so did my own food for thought. Turns out not only did all four children sitting at the table had 1 or 2 iPads in their household, but one of the girls’ older brother at the tender age of five, owned an iTouch.

People talk all the time about the hand-held technology rush, but this was truly something to behold. You know what was my biggest shock about five years ago? Seeing a fourth grader with a cell phone. All I could think was: “Who in the world is so important that you need to call them on a cell phone?” As I remember? we used quarters on things called payphones, really, because who else did we need to call other than our parents and a handful of select friends? The evolution of technology gave more to us than we guaranteed. On the entertainment front? It’s no wonder, really that Apple remained still one of the least-suffering corporations within the recession.

However, there is something to be said about the undeniable difference in what people feel it takes to enrich a kid’s life these days. My family for example: We were a household that owned absolutely no entertainment system, but the closest we came to it was a spinach-screen GameBoy owned by my then-12-year-old brother (which was quite the adventure getting, in itself.) Who knew that in 2011, a kid barely out of Kindergarten would be able to have something such as an iTouch??

So thus, the inevitable question I found out of this situation was simply:

Whatever happened to the days of Reading Rainbow?

Yes, Reading Rainbow. The show, hosted by LeVar Burton from 1983 until 2009, in my opinion was a brilliant little treasure that seriously met kids halfway with encouragement of building one’s imagination through reading. They also found ways to relate many children’s books to the wonders of real life. In a created episode surrounding the featured book, The Bionic Bunny Show by Marc Brown (one of my favorite children’s book writers), LeVar Burton, also known as the actor who played Lt. Jordi LaForge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, actually took the show to his set to give young viewers an inside look at how television shows were made. Every week there were new discoveries, new places, and a complete set list of at least four books-per-episode which a kid could look for in their local library (reviewed by kids, themselves!) For me, this was a complete a joy and provided much enlightenment.

Thus brings up the concept of what happened to actual reading. In an age where it’s becoming a constant battle of the rise of Kindles, Nooks, and E-Readers vs. BOOKS. As Borders Bookstores have become bankrupt, E and I were two of the MANY PEOPLE who clamored into the Borders in Fort Lee, NJ 2-weeks ago to claim what was left of final sales and wait on the 45-minute-long line of people who were taking whatever they could. As I waited there with E, our books piled high and giving me quite the strength and cardio workout, I had to wonder (and I had a lot of time to think at that moment), where were we all when we could have already done this? Did it take for a store to close for us to realize what we were missing?

* FYI – for baby shower & baby gifts, Auntie Caro here will always give books.

Thing is, I too confess to also being bit by the tech bug, myself. A Mac user for many years and applaud the many successes of Steve Jobs (he co-founded Pixar Animation for goodness sakes!!!)  But of course, this is me speaking as an adult, and that is the where the real difference lies. I suppose that remains the difference between us and those growing up in the fresher, new iGeneration. Those experiences being read to, learning to read our favorite (& not-so-favorite) books, and for some us, learning HOW to make books, can’t be taken away, but I’m sure hoping that they’ll stick around longer before really, it all just gets pushed out.

Apple truly = the food for thought of the advancing generations. In more ways than one: tasting it in your hand, or by hand-held device. Which one experience really holds the power for the spice of life?


One thought on “Whatever happened to the days of Reading Rainbow?

  1. I agree. All these kids have too much technology and they don’t do anything else with. Their skills in math, reading, and writing have greatly diminished, in my opinion, due to the proliferation of all this technology. No kid needs an ipad, let alone two.

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