by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
You may have seen the meme. Two mothers sit on a bench with their respective children. One mother is reading a book, and her kid is, too. The other pair is lost in their phones. The phone mom looks at the other woman and asks, “How do you get your child to read books?”
Obviously, we’d all like to be the parent whose kid reads. It’s like getting an achievement badge from the universe. We also enjoy hearing our kid request more vegetables or declare her love for math. It’s easy to want so many good things for our children that the pressure begins to numb our souls.
After all, no matter what we try, someone on Instagram is doing it so much better. Yet “raising readers” isn’t just another checkbox on some big societal list of things we should do so we can feel like good parents. It is instead an opportunity to live in a way that will free us from the tyranny of artificial parenting pressures. It is a way to not only make our children’s lives better but also our own. …
… Books are one of the best ways to guard our minds against a misuse of screens. Books aren’t magical mind-vitamins, of course. Yet in order to cultivate the ability to think, we must engage with good, wise, and true thoughts. And it happens that the works of humanity’s greatest thinkers are found in books.
Books liberate us from the isolation of our 2019 bubble. The beautiful thing is that they are also tremendously helpful at helping us to develop the attention span we need to think deeply.