What does the volcano eruption in Iceland, which has disrupted plane travel, have to do with National TV turn off week?

April 20, 2010

I just read an article, “Escape from the Jet Age” about the consequences to the airline industry from the volcano eruption in Iceland. This particular writer, rather than being irritated by the disrupted itineraries and lost productivity was wishing the “jet-free” interlude could have continued a bit longer. http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/opinion/20sethstevenson.html

I have always believed that reading and travel share many of the same attributes—with both you take a journey to places you have never been before and you meet new people. As I read some of the phrases from the article—“The faster we’re carried, the less time we have to spare.” “Surface transport can be contemplative, picturesque and even enchanting in a way that air travel never will be.”  Those who travel by plane will arrive at their destination quickly, “But they will have missed out on the wonders of a journey where there is no choice but to sit back and pleasantly ruminate.”—I saw that my mind had automatically equated plane travel with television (fast paced and passive) and slow travel with reading, reflection and involvement with a story.

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson is one of my favorite books that tweaks the subject of journeys by asking a thoughtful question, “What kind of journey do you prefer— when you travel, do you consider the “getting there “ as part of the journey or just a means to an end?

But back to the subject at hand —a week extolling the virtues of no Television.

So yes, I am extolling the virtues of taking a break from the fast paced world of television. And yes I also understand that television is part of a child’s world so here are a few suggestions to minimize some of the harmful effects of too much television.

~ Limit the amount of time children spend with their gadgets—TV and video, computers.

~ Talk to your child as they watch TV; these conversations teach them vocabulary and also model how to express their thoughts. Talk takes television viewing from a passive activity to one that encourages reflection and engagement.

~ Ask a child to tell you what the program is about.

~ Discuss what you see.

~ Model your thinking by expressing your opinions and thoughts.

~ Discuss with children some of your concerns surrounding the idea of “too much television.” Here are two ideas to spark a lively conversation:

“American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.” The Kaiser Family Foundation

“ I wasn’t worried about freedom, I was worried about people being turned into morons by TV.” Ray Bradbury

P.S. A great way to spend this week of no TV would be to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; a book that gives us a glimpse of a society that burns books and where people spend countless hours with television.

And yes, I am stacking the deck when I refer you to an article “Risks for Youths Who Eat What They Watch.” by Jane E. Brody. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/health/20brod.html

All food for thought and conversation.

A favorite poem by Ben Feinstein (7th grade)

April 13, 2010

If I were A color, I’d be white. Not a blank White, which is Empty and plain But a ready white. Ready to be Filled with imaginative Ideas, both colorful And creative. I would not be White for long though, For I’d be the color of many. I’d be filled with Sky blues, rosy reds, […]


Welcome to April—National Poetry Month.

April 9, 2010

April is National Poetry Month —a perfect opportunity to share some of my favorite poems and thoughts about poetry in general. The perfect place to begin is a poem by Karla Kuskin. I need to read. It’s a little like breathing or eating or drinking My life’s link to thinking. Without it I am much […]


Myths and Facts about children and reading

March 16, 2010

Having just returned from a whirlwind book tour in Asia, I encountered similar concerns from parents and teachers about children and reading and thought “Myths & Facts’ might clear up some understandable, but incorrect assumptions about children and reading. In the next couple of weeks I will continue to write on some of the universal […]


Can you guess which children’s author fits the following description?

March 2, 2010

~ Began as a writer for advertisements for such products as Flitt, a bug spray repellant ~ First book was turned down 43 times before being published ~ Began writing political cartoons in 1941 because he/she was concerned that American isolationism left America vulnerable.  Although (he/she had no great interest in social issues, he/she said, […]


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