Screen-free school hols - Nita Lester shares storytime with the local children at Mapleton Library

Screen-free school hols – Nita Lester shares storytime with the local children at Mapleton Library

The school holidays are coming, and there is always the thought, ‘what to do with the kids?’ over the two weeks. On page 13 we have plenty of outdoorsy ideas, but for those moments of rest, or rainy weather, how about a book?

In an age where we hurtle towards more and more use of digital forms, one would assume the lowly book is on its way out. Happily, this is not the case. But why?

Books have been around for centuries and without them we would know little about our ancestors, our history and past civilisations.

Books can broaden our knowledge, encourage questions, supply answers and expand our mental horizons. They can enrich us and sharpen our intellect.

They can also help us escape into another world created in the pages, uniquely visualised and honed by our imaginations.

Books are crammed full of ideas, knowledge, humour, history, romance, facts and adventure. However, these can also be read on a tablet or computer screen. So why do we return to the book?

A 2016 study by the Children and Technology Laboratory, University of Sussex in the UK, came up with some interesting observations.They compared changes in affective, cognitive and postural interaction between mothers and 7-9-year-old children, reading on paper and on a screen.

They found there were no differences in recall quality but the warmth of interaction dropped notably over time with children using a screen. They also noticed that the mother/child posture for paper reading led to more shared activity and engagement.

There are many other studies coming to light on the positive effects of paper reading, from the visual/mental relief from screen time, to the tactile pleasure of feeling the books, turning the pages and even enjoying the smell of a book.

Books become personal, and we become attached. A book is a companion which doesn’t need Wi-Fi or a charged battery to enjoy. A book can become an old friend, and a perfect companion for the school holidays.