Turn Off the TV and Get Your Family Reading
I don’t know that I could ever fully explain how much I love to read. One of my fantasy getaways is to rent a super luxurious hotel room in a winter location, order room service, and just read in bed all day. When I was a kid, I went to the library and borrowed ten books a week. I read during school, after school, and walking to and from school! Fiction was incredibly helpful to me during tricky parts of my childhood and adolescence, but it was also one of my greatest joys.
I try to show my own kids that a love for reading can benefit every part of their lives. If you can sink into a good story, you always have an escape hatch during those hard times, those stressful times, those boring moments, and yes, even those joyous times (circle back to that fantasy winter hotel room!). Reading helps with all sorts of cognitive development and language skills, but it’s also a wonderful tool for managing our complex lives.
That said, my household also has computers, TVs, tablets, phones, and consoles. And we all know kids (and grown-ups!) can easily get sucked into a catatonic state, eyes glued to the screen. Who can blame us? Online entertainment is passive and can be addictive. But separate to what it does to us grown-ups, studies have demonstrated that screen time can negatively impact verbal development and increase impatience and aggression in children.
So how do we get kids to turn away from the screen and pick up a book?
There are several ways; the ones I find most effective are: limiting screen time, reading side by side, and reading together. I am passionate about books. I make my living from them, and I build my family routines around them as well. I love creating material that people like and I think the world needs. Reading is important. And it’s why my publisher, Fabled Films Press, and I launched a new reading initiative designed to encourage families to unplug, bond, and enjoy a good story.
I write a series for seven- to twelve-year-olds titled The Nocturnals, and I adapted it into an early reader aimed at five- to seven-year-olds as well. The first in that new series, The Nocturnals: The Moonlight Meeting, chronicles the first meetup of a trio of nocturnal animals: Tobin, a sweet pangolin; Bismark, the loudmouthed, pint-sized sugar glider; and Dawn, a serious fox. The Moonlight Meeting characters introduce their nighttime world to early readers who discover the meaning of friendship and working together. The gorgeous illustrations by my partner Waymond Singleton strengthen the understanding of the story while adding whimsy and humor.
Once your kids graduate from the young readers, they can move on to The Mysterious Abductions, the first in the middle grade series. Aimed at older kids, it features a larger cast of nocturnal characters, including Tobin, Bismark, and Dawn, who band together to solve a mystery of vanishing animals. The Nocturnals, though, is more than just a book series. It is part of a comprehensive reading program that includes free activities you can access and print online. You can use all these tools and stories to help keep your kids passionate about reading, spark their imagination, and connect your entire family.
Reading is an active pursuit that engages the imagination and allows readers to decide how characters look, sound, and behave, and this process helps characters become even richer and more memorable in readers’ minds. It is for this reason that I strongly urge you to read stories in their physical book form and not on e-readers. E-readers have shown that they are not as effective in terms of teaching language skills to kids; plus, they can stimulate your senses and make your kids too hyper to go to bed easily. (Who needs that?) But all those points aside, it’s so much nicer to enjoy the original illustrations in paper form.
Just start reading to your kids, and let them read to you. It’s fun and good for them, and you’ll all enjoy the value of unplugging your devices and connecting to each other while enjoying the pleasure of reading.
About the Author
Tracey Hecht is a writer and entrepreneur who has written, directed, and produced for film. Her first middle grade series, The Nocturnals, was launched in 2016 with The Mysterious Abductions and The Ominous Eye. The American Bookselling Association chose The Mysterious Abductions as a Kids’ Indie Next List pick. Her third book, The Fallen Star, was released in May 2017. The fourth book is set for release in February 2018.
In partnership with the New York Public Library, Tracey created a Read Aloud Writing Program in ten schools around New York City. During the year, she continued to conduct this program in over thirty-five schools, libraries, and bookstores across the country. In June 2017, she launched a partnership with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation to bring The Nocturnals program to the broadcast media centers within pediatric hospitals. The first hospital was the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. In October, there will be events in Nashville, TN, and Charlotte, NC.
When Tracey isn’t writing, she can be found hiking, reading, or spending time with her family. Tracey currently splits her time between New York City and Oquossoc, Maine, with her husband and four children.
About The Nocturnals
The Nocturnals, by Tracey Hecht, launched in April 2016 with a critically acclaimed middle grade book, The Mysterious Abductions, animated shorts, and a website featuring activities for educators (Common Core Language Arts Guide, Next Generation Science Guide), parents, and children. The brand is suitable for both boys and girls aged seven to twelve years old.
The Nocturnals features three unlikely friends: Dawn, a serious fox; Tobin, a sweet pangolin; and Bismark, the loudmouthed, pint-sized sugar glider. The stories all play out in their nighttime world with teamwork, friendship, and humor in every adventure. In its content, the series is close to the New York Times best-selling book The Tale of Despereaux, and it has the humor of the animated films Madagascar and Zootopia. Fabled Films Press is planning a ten-book series.
Fabled Films Press—the imprint of Fabled Films, a children’s media and entertainment company—is thrilled to announce Grow & Read, a new early reader program for The Nocturnals. Through this series, which was created under the supervision of reading specialists, children will develop confidence for success in reading while being delighted by traditional storytelling. The books are perfect for shared reading and reading aloud in both the classroom and at home.
In The Moonlight Meeting, the Nocturnal Brigade—Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark—introduce their nighttime world to early readers who discover the meaning of friendship and sharing. The book has gorgeous illustrations, which strengthen readers’ understanding of the story while adding whimsy and humor.
The article Turn Off the TV and Get Your Family Reading was written by Tracey Hecht, author of The Nocturnals. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Autism, Claire LaZebnik, Romance, Sisters, Writing Tips, and Young Adult Fiction.