What kind of books is your child reading?

Posted on January 06, 2013 by My Imagination Kingdom | 0 comments

Recently, we have seen a significant rise in the popularity of character books for children. Books from the Disney Princesses, Thomas The Train, Dora The Explorer, Barbie...You name a well-known children's TV show/movie or toy series and you're likely to find its equivalent in a book format. Whether it's activity books, sticker books, story books or even music/sound books. 


At My Imagination Kingdom, we're huge fans of Walt Disney. He has, after all built a legacy by creating well-loved stories that draw on people's imagination. But yet, we wonder what he might say if he realises that the home libraries of children today are filled with "book adaptations" (from Disney no less) like the examples we have listed above. 


"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island. And best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life." - Walt Disney


Walt Disney said this, at a time when "book adaptations" were not even invented. As a book lover, he believed that the knowledge and inspiration that books can bring, far exceeds the tangible monetary rewards you could ever receive from other sources. But to fully extricate this value from books, we need to remind ourselves that not all books can serve the same purpose.


Character books, while they're easy to consume for children who have already been exposed to them on TV, are unlikely to do much in helping to widen children's horizons. They merely leverage on the content that has already been written for TV or the big screen. From these content providers' point-of-view, the "book adaptations" are to extend the shelf life of the characters that they have developed in order to ensure that they can continue to reap profits from the original format (e.g. the TV series or toy merchandise). They were not written with the foremost objective of helping children gain literacy, stretch their imagination or be inspired to read more. 


So while it's great to stimulate children who may be uninterested in books or reading with these character books at the beginning, it's important that we slowly wean children off these "book adaptations" as time passes. If not, children may never learn to appreciate books in their simplest and purest form. Books that were not based on anything else except the author's passion to tell a story. 

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How does watching TV affect my child?

Posted on October 14, 2012 by My Imagination Kingdom | 0 comments

"A review of the evidence in the Archives Of Disease in Childhood says children's obsession with TV, computers and screen games is causing developmental damage as well as long-term physical harm. Doctors at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which co-owns the journal with the British Medical Journal group, say they are concerned. 
Prof Mitch Blair, officer for health promotion at the college, said: "Whether it's mobile phones, games consoles, TVs or laptops, advances in technology mean children are exposed to screens for longer amounts of time than ever before. We are becoming increasingly concerned, as are paediatricians in several other countries, as to how this affects the rapidly developing brain in children and young people."
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also issued guidance, saying "media – both foreground and background – have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years". The Canadian Paediatric Society says no child should be allowed to have a television, computer or video game equipment in his or her bedroom."
- The Guardian, Tuesday 9th October 2012


It is true that the profileration of mobile devices and technology has made it almost impossible for children to be isolated from it. At the same time, this has also become a contentious issue amongst paediatricians and education experts. We are seeing an increasing number of studies, similar to the one above, that call for parents to be more mindful of the amount of TV they are exposing their young children to. 


Without a doubt, the quality of children's television today has improved. However, this needs to be balanced against the needs of a child at that tender age.  In the same study above, Dr Aric Sigman, the author of the study says that the first three years of a child's life are critical for brain development and it is highly pertinent that children at this age interact with their parents eye-to-eye, and not with a screen. 


It is easy when you're busy and in need of some quiet time to leave your child in front of the TV or computer watching programmes by themselves. It definitely does the job of keeping them focused on something instead of pestering you for another snack or requiring your attention. But the easy way out for you may not necessarily be the best way out for your child. 


The next time you're tempted to place your child in front of the TV, think about how much more fun you might have spending quality time with him or her by interacting face-to-face with them. 

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