When Mabel Watson Payne and I got back to the apartment from our playground expedition on Friday afternoon, she took a rest on the sofa with Daddy and read an enthralling book.
In my own opinion, one of her parents' most fruitful decisions at the outset of their child-rearing adventure was to exclude electronic forms of entertainment from Mabel's early experience. Approaching age two, she is barely aware of the existence of the whole DVD/TV/Internet universe. And in that absence, she is able to put her whole heart into her storybooks.
The difference is more than a Luddite preference for Old Media. The book is part of the three-dimensional material world whose exploration is the chief developmental mission at Mabel's stage of life. Reading also means snuggling up to the loving adult who does the reading. And she increasingly does more than half the "reading" herself, singling out details to talk about for as long as she likes and deciding for herself when to turn the page and move on to the next plot-twist, the next moral dilemma, the next topic of conversation.
If she had the option of sitting passively hypnotized by colorful creatures zipping about on a screen, I very much doubt she would bring this same level of mental and emotional energy to mere printed words and static pictures. Hence, the successful conspiracy among the teachers, publishers and librarians who make up her immediate local family to indoctrinate her in their own archaic values.