In the last couple of months I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of lots of kids in my immediate surroundings.
These kids ranged in ages between 2 and 10, and they were a riot and a hoot.
The main thing that got to me was the clear distinction of attitudes between the kids that belonged to parents who were invested in reading and the ones who spend more time with TV on tablets.
Here are the things I need to make you aware of, things I concluded after this hands on experience:
- Children shouldn’t watch more than 1 hour a day of TV. I’ll make an exception to this: If you live with parents that are illiterate and the sum of culture you may obtain from TV surpasses the amount of culture and life lessons your parents can give you…then please, have those kids watch a lot of TV, preferably PBS programs.
- Not watching TV goes hand in hand with spending interactive time with them, preferably doing enjoyable learning activities.
- Children spending time on tablets receive a similar negative effect as watching TV. It is not as bad but almost.
- Children have to spend time with different types of personalities to learn people skills. Not just dad and mom. Preferably other kids, and even better from other cultures and backgrounds.
I enjoyed witnessing a very young toddler getting into the habit of having her parent read comics to her, while a friend of the same age had the TV on all the time and the parents kept pushing her towards tv shows and nikelodeon.
The first child enjoys comics, and loves pictures. Now 6 months into reading to her, she grabs comics on her own and makes up stories and reads to herself. You can find her in the living room while the TV is glaring in the background and she doesn’t even care, and she is making up stories and “reading” to herself, exercising her imagination. She actually makes comparative analogies in her surroundings because she has her horizons expanded wide open… she knows different races, and understands the concepts of different languages, and understands that the graphic narrative flows from left to right and from top to bottom.
She understands anger, consequences, violence, laughter and a bunch of other emotions based on how it reflects on others.
The second kid is showing signs of not being able to stayed focused on a task for too long. The first kid likes to complete her tasks to her liking. The second child is able to move much faster and has stronger body coordination, though. But seems to keep repeating the same task, and I am afraid she doesn’t process the concept that “not by repeating the same task you will change the result”.
Reading, even if it is just comics (as opposed to big-boy-books) is showing secondary positive results:
She understands things like the driving mechanics of a car, from reading a comic;
she understands reactions of animals from the comics;
she understands planes and their interiors from comics, same goes for airports; the list goes on.
she understands different causes for conflict and understands need for conflict resolution.
The point being that reading to your kid teaches them focus. And reading them comics gives them an incentive to understand the values of stories. Also, you can’t drop a stack of comic books and expect her to start reading. It is a process, and the parents/mentors are an intrinsic and important part of it.
I also want to share another realization:
Leaving the kid with a tablet (Be it an iPad, or Android device) is less harmful to their intellectual stimulation than TV. But not by much. So you should avoid it.
BOTTOM LINE: Your kids are mostly a blank slate. There are exceptions to these rules: It is said that Mozart was playing like a virtuoso by age 6, but it is not stated how much his father pushed him to start playing, maybe he abused the poor kid into that profession. Maybe your kid is more like a William James Sidis (If you don’t know who that is, google it, and you will be amazed) and autodidact by nature, but most of us are not like that genius, and we sure can use guidance.
You have to be there for your kid. It is an ethical contract you engaged when you created a new life. You will put yourself in second place, and will support and assist this new life to move forth.
Now, given the small selection of comics for toddlers out there, I had to scour lots of LCBS till I found appropriate titles.
I am not necessarily going solely for the kiddie stuff.
Writer: Franco & Art Baltazar
Artist: Art Baltazar
Really awesome series, with emphasis in both genres, boys and girls, with the rare quality of being toddler/kiddie friendly and adult fun.
Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Adapted by Joe Caramagna
Playful and kid approacheable. May not be so enjoyable as the previous title for adults, but still bearable.
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!
Writer: Mike Kunkel, Art Baltazar, Franco, Others
Artists: Mike Kunkel, Mike Norton, Others
He’s pretty much the best character for kids, because he is one. It is also one of those titles that is enjoyable for adults, so… don’t hesitate!
Batman: Li’l Gotham
Writers: Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
I noticed that toddlers sometimes have a hard time staying with title.
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Jonathan Case, Others
This one may not be also too suitable for toddlers at time, although certainly for young kids.
Writer: Ryan North, Others
Artists: Braden Lamb, Others
Publisher: Boom! Studios
All around winner, awesome exercise in imagination for children’s of all ages
Teen Titans GO!
Another great title even for the more younger ones.
Another group you can never go wrong with. I stay away because of ethical reasons; I disagree with lots of the Disney ethics and business decisions.