I’m a self-confessed television addict. I always wasn’t that way though. As a little girl I remember walking to the sky blue, wooden doored little shop in the tree lined Malleswaram, the sunlight streaming down and I was allowed to pick books of my choice. Tintin, Asterix or other comics. On other occasions, we went to Brigade road where in a cubby hole of a shop sat a book- seller. He had so many magazines and books, and he would kindly suggest some that I could read. If there was a gift that my father gave me, it was, access to new wonderful worlds through books.
In 1982, with the Asian games came a colour television box and soon I was transfixed.My books were read lesser and the tv was my new best friend. Our friendship grew deep over time. I never had to struggle or stumble over words or ponder what to read. It showed me whatever it chose and I loved everything. I stopped sketching and imagining I was a princess with a trail following as I walked down the steps of my modest home. No longer, were tin cans banged or my mother regaled with my sketches.
Now in my forties I have rediscovered books again. Picture books and books about dolphins. Books that talk about lords and spaceships. Thanks in part go to my children who I am trying to wean away from the television. Now we sit together and read a book discussing plot twists and turns. They tell me the cloud looks like James’Giant Peach or the new girl in school is like the one in the book such and such.
Roald Dahl in his poem Television names it a monster and asks children everywhere to go back to reading. He assures us that reading will bring back the fun in fantastic and help us develop a rich and varied inner life.
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
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?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rate and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
Roald Dahl has done much to fix this problem. He wrote a lot of brilliant books for children. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG (for big friendly giant), Matilda, Danny the Champion of the World, Fantastic Mr.Fox and The Twits are some of his really famous and really fun books.
You can buy these books from the comfort of your home by clicking on the links for yourself or a child who might be watching too much telly or tab!
Links to Buy Products Mentioned in this Post
- Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
- Danny The Champion of The World
- James and The Giant Peach
- The BFG
- The Twits
- Fantastic Mr.Fox