Happy Cheetah Reading

Why I Love to Read Real Books to My Boys

The boys and I keep working our way through the Squire’s Tales. Book Eight, The Quest of the Fair Unknown, is the one I remember least.

So I was delighted when the main character Beaufils first visits Camelot. The description of his introduction to King Arthur had the boys laughing out loud for several minutes, as the encounter stretched on for several pages. It is such a creative depiction of two good-hearted men, meeting in a way that could easily have been crushing for one or both, but is instead humorous and charming.

It reminded me of an amazing IKEA ad a few years ago. “Once in a while, something comes along that changes the way we live. A device so simple and intuitive, using it feels almost familiar. Introducing the 2015 IKEA catalog. It’s not a digital book, or an ebook. It’s a bookbook.”

Then, for two minutes more, the ad lovingly details the features of a book. No need for cords. Infinite battery life. Easy to turn the pages either forward or backward. Bend a page down to bookmark it. And if you want to share it? You actually share it.

It’s an amazing sendup, a tech-language parody of old school information transmission.

Now I am thankful for audio books. They keep my boys supplied with good stories all the hours that I’m not available to read.

But I usually want to be the first to read a book to my boys. I want to hear those first laughs. I want to share those moments.

And while I suppose I could read books to the boys using a digital device, I don’t. I actually pull out our collection of Geomags and use them to count down the pages we have left in each book. It’s satisfying to me in an odd, tactile way. It shows me how much actual progress we’re making. On days recently when I’ve already read 150 pages, I can see that I have only 26 more to go. Almost done!

Daniel Levitin, in The Organized Mind, talks about the importance of physicality.

[M]any of us still find something soothing and satisfying about handling physical objects. Memory is multidimensional, and our memories for objects are based on multiple attributes. . . . Physical objects tend to look different from one another in a way that computer files don’t. All bits are created equal. . . . There is nothing in the medium itself that carries a clue to the message. So much so that if you looked at the digital representation of . . . This paragraph . . . You would not even know that those zeroes and ones were representing images rather than text or music. Information has thus become separated from meaning.

We don’t have a system in the computer world that mimics the satisfying real-world experience that worked so well for us. . . . Technology writer Nicholas Carr writes, “The medium does matter. As a technology, a book focuses our attention, isolates us from the myriad distractions that fill our everyday lives. A networked computer does precisely the opposite.”

I read a real book to my boys because I want to share the experience of the story with them and hear their chuckles. I’m jealous for those moments.

I read a real book to my boys because I want to read a book. I want them to remember me holding each unique cover, not a vague memory of day after day staring at the glowing screen.

Frankly, I already check that glowing screen enough.

This is one of the reasons that I love the Happy Cheetah Reading System.

It’s not an app. It’s not a computer program. Among the 11 previous programs we tried, we had used one of those — but it never felt right. Reading a book is a different experience than playing a video game. It’s meant to be!

It feels right to me to have a physical book for my boys to hold when they read. All that real kinesthetic stimulation!

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