~ By R.E. Munzing, Author of Beyond the Firefly Field
Our children are under siege in a war we were late to recognize was happening. We thought we had a free babysitter when we sent our kids off to their cable TVs, computers, video games, and cell phones. They were quiet for hours and out of our way. We just didn’t know about the bad side effects those diversions brought with them. Now we will have to fight to get our kids back from the electronic gadgets that so completely mesmerize them and consume so much of their time.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in the stone age of the 1950s. Because our main source of electronic entertainment, the black and white television, only picked up five stations, reading was a prominent source of entertainment and diversion.
Apparently, we didn’t understand that the true gift of reading isn’t in the entertainment, knowledge, or diversion we received. The very act of reading forces the reader to create or imagine every scene, activity, or concept from the words. The key word here is create, turning reading into an exercising of our creative abilities. When reading a fiction book, the reader pulls the words in at a comfortable pace, constantly envisioning the story. Plus, the reader can stop to reflect on the story, read between the lines, or extrapolate what is going to happen next. That amounts to a lot of mental exercise that you don’t get if you only watch a movie about that story. With a movie, the viewer gets bombarded by scene after scene at a relentless pace, chosen by the movie’s director. There is no need for viewer creativity and no time for reflection. Both the reader and the movie watcher know the story, but the reader gets to go through life wired for creativity.
The creativity and reflection exercises built into reading are the foundation of all innovation in every career that kids will someday choose. Creativity drives the “what if” factor that leads to thinking outside of the box. What if we did this or changed that? What would happen if we tried a completely different approach? Only people with minds wired for creativity will ask those questions and come up with the answers.
As a kid, I spent countless hours reading. Today’s kids spend countless hours being bombarded by their electronic gadgets. I know a thirteen-year-old girl who has no intention of ever reading a book. Are we about to send generations of creative zombies into adulthood and the workforce? I think so, and civilization will soon pay the price.
As authors, we now find ourselves on the frontline of a battle we didn’t know we were in. Now, only our words can stand in the way of humanity becoming just a more intelligent breed of cattle with sparklier nose rings. Only our books, blogs, and tweets can entice kids away from the ever better devices that command their attention and spread the alarm of the imminent demise of human creativity. Everything we children’s book authors write is now a bullet, bomb, or missile fired in the war to take our children back. The authors of adult books have to keep the adults reading to lead their children by example, a task no less important. If we lose this war, civilization may just turn to mush and crumble like the Roman Empire. No biggie. Have a nice day in the shadow of this war.
Or, as the fairies say, “Be happy and well,”
Munzing is the author of the young adult fantasy novel Beyond the Firefly Field. He spent his childhood in Michigan, roaming the woods and building tree houses and spent thirty-five years as an engineer before stepping into the world of writing. He is now working on the next three books in The Last Elfarian series. You can learn more about Munzing here and purchase his book on BQB’s online store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore. The eBook version is also available on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and Kobo.