It’s interactive, it will transport you from one time and world into the next, but most importantly, it builds lasting relationships.
Today, getting children to focus is a challenge—there’s media everywhere. Lights, sounds, internet games; that’s enough to distract anybody, let alone a child who’s in the developing stages of life. We all know that children are sponges, but what is it that they are absorbing? Be it a cell phone, gaming console, or computer, the synergy is between the child and the machine. What is it that they are learning? Is this machine an extension of them? There are plenty of scifi novels and movies that tell us where that might get us. When you read a book to a child, however, the synergy is between the reader and the listener.
Books are its own form of interactive media: there is no substitute for taking the time to read to a child. That in itself breeds confidence. There are all type of studies that show how a calm voice encourages self-awareness. The listener, in this case the child, gets to surrender and you get to share in their imagination. It’s the consistency of a story, however, that truly makes a book special.
In this frantic world, children require consistency, traditions that they can trust. Computers get corrupted, life is ever changing, and while we all can’t be perfect, we can be consistent.
When the holidays arrive, we’re reminded of what we lost and what we wish still was. It’s our traditions that ease us from one year into the next. We’re all reflective during the holidays and find even these moments are slowly being eroded. They have become commercialized, replacing intimacy with consumerism and we as parents are willing to buy anything to show our children how much we love them. I felt this was a lost opportunity; a chance to share with our children. Yes, a gift is great, but what we leave behind is the time we spent with our loved ones.
The book I authored, The Book of Kringle – Legend of the North Pole, was written with this in mind. I’m the father of three daughters and there’s very little I had in common with them when they were 3, 6, and 8. I wanted to connect with them. Parenting is such that you always feel like you are playing catch up, like you’re not doing enough. I would read book after book, some great, others not so much, but it gave me quiet time with them. As a father who’s always working, it was the opportunity I needed after missing the entire day.
I found that I could read, read, and read and they never got tired of it, but slowly I got so sick of reading the same books that I began to change the point of view and act out the characters. I found I was connecting with my daughters and even if it was just to mock me, I enjoyed the exchange. I loved every moment.
I wanted a deeper world, a rich world I could dive further in with them. Kringle came from this; a need to instill in my children, without them knowing it, some important knowledge. I broke it down to the fundamentals; it needed to be very simple. Raising children isn’t telling them what to do, it’s guiding them to a place of self-discovery. I wanted my children to fully understand that there’s something unique and special within them and that the good that they do, will return.
I began to think about the permanency of words. It’s amazing what happens when something is written down; unlike a computer, it’s always there. You can’t reboot or delete a book—it is permanent and permanence is the most constant anything could be.
I wonder what it’s like to be a child today where everything is interchangeable; new cars, new cell phone, new relationships that break up more than ever before. It must seem that life is filled with shallow 140 characters or less exchanges. Books and reading are the quiet time that any person, especially a child, requires to feel safe. We all need common experiences; it’s part of being human. We all share in the big game, the concert; we’re all obviously craving connection but the exchange between the child and the reader is never forgotten.When you start and build a relationship in the realm of imagination you have created an experience and memory with that person.
Today’s media is all prerecorded. It happened already and there nothing lasting about it. It’s a 2-minute consumption and then it’s on to the next. A good book is never a relic of the past, no matter when it was written. Because it is the one true media that’s happening now. Although you are transported to another time and world, the exchange you’re having with the child lives in the present and will live on into the future. Read to your children.
Derek Velez Partridge was first inspired to pen The Book of Kringle – Legend of the North Pole at 16 years old when he wrote a poem titled, “Old Man Joe.” Partridge has been a professional artist for many years, getting his start as a clay potter while living with Pablo Indians in New Mexico. He has made two feature films and is currently in pre-production of a new film called The Devil That Is, story by Edwin Torres, the New York Supreme Court Judge known for Carlito’s Way. Partridge is the father of three daughters aged 11, 14 and 16, to whom he dedicates The Book of Kringle. For more information, please visit the book’s website, as well as the Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Goodreads pages.