Nighttime Stories… with an iPad?
By Garrett Hedman
Every night, Ryan, a six-year-old wild child, stands at the top of the stairs in his pajamas with a devious smile. He’s occasionally topless; occasionally bottomless; sometimes his clothes are mismatched, but he always waits patiently at the top of the stairs. Ryan’s preparing for one of the greatest series of events a six-year-old could dream of, a piggyback down the stairs to his room, one-on-one time with mom, and a nighttime story.
It’s our sacred ritual, a bedtime story. Yet, now that there are tablet books, will our glowing screens of interactivity destroy the traditions of the past or innovate for the future?
A good bedtime story should include the following:
1) A comfortable reading environment
2) Close proximity between parent and child
3) A quality story
4) Inspired conversation
A glowing screen can change the comfort of our reading environments. At night, your body releases the chemical melatonin, which makes you sleepy. According to Joyce Walseben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine “Melatonin is your hormone of darkness—it won’t flow with the lights on.” A dimly lit room will help trigger the release of the chemical. A child mesmerized by a tablet in a dark room won’t release any melatonin. But if we dim the lights in the room, and make sure our books aren’t glaring, we can still create the comfortable environment that will help our children receive good night’s sleep.
Dim the lights. Dim the tablet. Done.
Nonetheless, we have to remain an active part of bedtime (see the benefits of a nighttime story in the resources below). The iPad, Kindle, and other devices should not be an excuse to forego tradition. As stressful as the day may be, as late as the night might get, we can’t just hand our Ryans an iPad leaving them standing on top of the stairs with no piggy back, no one-on-one, no conversation, regardless of the medium we choose, print or interactive book. We must pick up our Ryans, break our backs, and let a world of imagination flourish in our fragile, proud-to-be, six-year-olds.
What are your traditions for the bedtime story?
Garrett Hedman has been a high school chemistry teacher in Greenville, Mississippi for the past 3 years; he has been a storyteller for the past five years. Now, he is spending his time making interactive books and visiting schools. You can follow his work at www.facebook.com/cutiebearnotcute .
illustration by Garrett Hedman