The Oompa Loompa's Wisdom

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's a little bit annoying that my son's teacher expects him to keep a log of every book we read. I tend to think of it is just one more thing I've got to remember to do:

  1. Sign daily behavior chart
  2. Check homework
  3. Record nightly book
  4. Wonder how someone with more than 2 kids keeps track of all this.

But then again, it's also quite the motivator. Our bedtime reading was almost nonexistent by the end of the summer. When school started, and I saw that log sheet I decided, "Let's do a big boy chapter book." Oh sure, maybe a little laziness on my part was involved (I can write down one title for the whole week!) but also, he's ready.

We started with Roald Dahl's classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I'd forgotten how much of the book (practically the first 1/3) is devoted to describing Charlie's life as a poor, hungry child. Charlie is part of a loving family and he is happy, but his one gift being one chocolate bar per year - that made an impression on my guy. It's good for him to know that, Yes, there really are children for whom one chocolate bar would be an amazing treat. 

Then the suspense - would Charlie ever find the golden ticket!?! By the time we got little Charlie into the chocolate factory, Mr. 1st Grade was completely engaged and hooked on Charlie's fate. He was much less concerned about what happened to the other children inside the factory. They would do something naughty, the Oompa Loompas would carry them off with a song, and that was that.
There goes Violet Beauregarde
But the last song, oh the last one! Those Ooompa Loompas made me want to stand up and cheer. And turn off the TV.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink - 
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
"But if we take the set away, 
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children! Please explain!" . . .
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY . . . USED . . . TO . . . READ!

Uhm. Guilty. Completely guilty. Except I don't "cook" lunch. I use the TV to cook dinner.

I'd forgotten all about this part, and honestly, it's amazing to me that this was written in 1964. I wonder what Roald Dahl would think about today's world? Would he embrace parts of technology? Would he believe that some screen time is good, but a lot of it is junk? Would he still be desperate for children - adults, too! - to read?

I think he would. He might even endorse the nightly reading log.
How do you feel about television? 
What about all the screens we have now?
Could reading replace some screen time in your house?

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One Response to “The Oompa Loompa's Wisdom”

  1. I really liked this post Courtney. It is so hard to balance screen time for kids. With both kids being in school now my kids definitely watch way less than they did this summer. So that's good. But, how are you suppose to get dinner completed without the tv? I recently asked a mom of 5!!! how she does it and she said she gets her dinner prepped while her older ones are in school and she just has the two little ones during the day. And...they don't even have a tv. Isn't that inspiring!!!

    I am reading 7 now and LOVE IT. I'm toying with the idea of ditching the smartphone and going back to just a basic cell phone. I think it teaches bad manners to my kids that I regularly look on it just because I'm bored. I want to teach them there are better ways to spend my time than attached to a screen. But it has to start with me, you know?

    Thanks for this post! Definitely will check out this book to read to DE. Your boys might like Wind in the Willows (the real one from the 1800's)...DE loved it. It took us a year to read and I had to leave out some adult language but it provided me entertainment too. We are reading Peter Pan now and DE really likes that as well.