I was in a Hallmark store last week, and I noticed a display of a new kind of kids’ book. Hallmark is selling a “Recordable Storybook”. Now you can read to children even when you’re not with them. Parents, family or caregivers can record their own voice reading the story, page by page, to play whenever the child opens the book.
I am of two minds about these books.
I believe childhood bedtime stories with my mom shaped my life in a big way. It wasn’t just about the love of the books that was planted before I hit preschool, which led to good reading skills that gave me a leg up in school and then shaped my developing career as a writer. It was about the kind of irreplaceable family memories that people hold close to their hearts, and hope to give to their own children. The world is never so safe as when a parent or beloved caregiver is reading you a story. I imagine the young recipient of a Recordable Storybook turning the pages in bed, with nothing for company but a tinny recording that relies on a battery. If you’re going to use recordings to entertain your kids, why get a book? Just pop in a DVD.
On the other hand, my husband has young nieces and nephews who are on the other side of the world, and the idea of giving them a story to hear in my voice, just like I read to them when I’m with them, has an appeal. And parents these days are pulled in a thousand different directions – isn’t this a wholesome substitute for quality time when work is pressing?
Do you think these books are a good idea?