My infant son Ethan loves books.
Every night, I read him the same story: Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. He smiles, wiggles and helps me turn the colorful cardboard pages. Of course, he is just 5 months old. He has years to go before learning to read, which makes me wonder if when he does, books themselves will exist as anything more than novelty items.
My son also loves technology. He watches music videos on my Galaxy phone. His eyes widen as Nemo and friends swim to a rendition of the catchy tune Beyond the Sea.
Then there's the video my friend took of her baby daughter laughing. Ethan giggles every time he sees it and talks back to his digital girlfriend. Lately, he grabs at the phone and tries to hold it himself. He whimpers when he accidentally shuts it off. He wants more.
Growing up in the 1980s, I didn't have access to an endless stream of media. If I wanted to watch a movie, we rented it out from the local video store. My favorite cartoons weren't available on demand. So, I only got to watch them once a week. To hear a new song I liked, I bought a cassette.
I imagine Ethan living in a world of instant gratification. When he wants to know something, he will likely type his question into a search engine. When he wants to read a bestseller, he will circumvent the library and bookstore by pulling it up on his tablet. He will know more than I do, I'm sure. He will laugh when I fumble with new gadgets.
Sometimes I worry that Ethan will never know the joy of getting Sunday morning newsprint on his hands. I worry he will roll his eyes at my stocked bookshelves. No matter how often I use my Kindle, my love for hardbacks refuses to die. As a young woman, I spent countless nights sharing a pillow with Emily Dickinson's poetry. Will Ethan fall asleep with his iPad?
I hope my son will love to read because, in my opinion, nothing is more beautiful than the written word. I guess it shouldn't matter whether he reads a worn paperback copy of A Tale of Two Cities or a digital version. Still, these days, my heart soars watching him learn to turn a page.