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Opinion

Take a book outside to read this summer

June 8th, 2013 12:00 am by Staff Report

Take a book outside to read this summer

School’s out and that means area children are looking forward to (as the old song says) those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” Unfortunately, they will be nothing but lazy days for too many kids.
Summer is often a season for “brain drain” — a time when students put down the books and spend even more time in front of screens. They might be TV screens, or they could be computer screens. More than likely, it will be a smartphone screen.
This summer, encourage a kid you know to put down the digital device and pick up a book. Show him or her how reading can open the door to a universe of new ideas and experiences. A good place to get started on that journey is the Johnson City Public Library, where officials expect their summer reading program will draw more than 500 young readers this year.
The library offers a number of programs for kids from preschool to high school. To learn more, call the library at 434-4458 or visit jcpl.net.
Diving into a good book is a productive alternative to wading in the intellectual shallows of the Internet, social media and computer games. And for goodness sake, encourage children to go outside to read. Parents for many generations have instructed their children to “Go outside and play.” Years ago, children would happily oblige. Now, not so many.
Researchers say American children are spending less time outdoors enjoying nature. Author and columnist Richard Louv believes this “nature deficit” could prove detrimental to the physical, emotional and spiritual development of children. In his 2006 book, “Last Child in the Woods — Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” Louv links the lack of a basic awareness of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation to a growing number of childhood health problems, such as obesity, attention disorders and depression.
Scientists say too many children are spending sunny afternoons in front of one of those screens we mentioned earlier. As a result, many children suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. Shockingly, this deficiency is so bad that some children are being diagnosed with rickets — a soft bone disease that was rampant in the 19th century.
One way to combat rickets and prevent brain drain this summer is to pick a good book, go outside and read it. Simple.

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