In a video making the rounds on YouTube, a toddler is seen trying – and failing – to manipulate the pages of a magazine as if it were an iPad instead of a stack of printed pages. Frustrated in her attempts to make images move, she pushes the magazine away.
Well, maybe not. How valuable can it be for a baby to learn that mom’s iPad, with its flashy moving images, is way cooler than the printed page? If children learn to read by being read to by their parents and by mimicking parental behavior – which they do – what is this child learning?
Reading experts say even the youngest of babies benefit when their parents or other adults read to them aloud from a book. By being read to, a baby learns about communication and about important concepts such as numbers and letters, and colors and shapes. Reading also builds critical listening, memory, and vocabulary skills. Indeed, the very act of participating in reading at an early age is what creates lifelong readers. When parent and baby share a book, the baby is usually encouraged to join in the activity by turning pages and following text from left to right. This is behavior that will serve them well when they begin to read on their own.
So yes, it’s cute to see the iPad baby grapple with the pages of a magazine. But it would be really neat if the next frame of the YouTube video showed a parent picking up the magazine the child has pushed away to show her how cool words and pictures can be – even when they only move in our imaginations.