Monday, February 25, 2013

Show 'N Tell

Did you have one of these when you were growing up? I did, and I absolutely loved it! I often credit the Show 'N Tell as one of the reasons I learned to love reading. It made stories come alive for me. The one I had looked just like the one in the picture shown here. It makes me smile just looking at it.

I would spend hours listening and watching the books that played on that little red and white plastic television. I would put a record on the player and put the slide in to see the pictures along with the story. When I learned to read, I would read everything on and in the cover of the record jacket.

My most vivid memory of the time I spent in front of my Show 'N Tell was listening and watching the story of Jane Eyre. I was always mesmerized at the parts where the crazy wife is screaming in the tower, and I remember the picture of the flames when she set the mansion on fire. No matter how many times I saw it, I was fascinated at the contrast between the calm of Jane and the insanity of what was going on in that house. I also remember that it always made me feel sad at the end.

I believe that wonderful little plastic television is one of the reasons I play such great movies in my head when I read (which is why I get so absorbed when I'm reading a fiction story). I tell my students all the time that there hasn't been a moviemaker yet who can make a movie that comes close to the fabulous visions I have in my head when I read. It is why I prefer to read instead of watching television or movies. Yes, I do watch them sometimes, but it's usually a choice I make when I'm tired and don't feel like thinking.

I'm still amazed when I realize how fortunate I was to be exposed to Jane Eyre at such a young age. I think about how often I hear what children should and shouldn't be reading. I think about how many children aren't reading, on a regular basis, at all. I haven't figured out yet why society thinks that the more technology we have, the less our children need to read and write well...when exactly the opposite is true. When children have so much information thrown at them, through access to the world-wide web, they need to know how to read well and discern good information from bad. They need to know how to respond to something in writing, to give their opinion, and to state their side of things. Not to mention, much of what they write is ON the internet, and they have a much bigger audience reading what they write!

So, you can keep all your fancy computer games that claim they make children smarter. You can keep your PSPs, your Gameboys, and even your Baby Einsteins. I just wish I could buy all the preschoolers a good, old-fashioned Show 'N Tell...

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