Reading together is richly rewarding

We recently invited a father and his young son to our studio to help us create an advert to support the Hungry Little Minds Campaign

At the studio, Andrew’s son Oscar sat glued to his dad’s phone. You could hear Oscar making noises as he was so engrossed in his video game. This was just a distraction which allowed us to record in peace.

Sometimes as parents, we give our children devices to occupy them whilst we attend to our list of things to do. This may not be the correct way to parent but it certainly helps us to distract them and allows us some freedom, even if it’s 5 minutes. Let’s be honest, we’ve all done this at some point. I personally think once in a while is ok, but let’s ask ourselves, our children on their devices daily and how much is too much?

I trade device time for reading or bike riding. That way my daughter gets to keep fit, soak up some vitamin D and gain knowledge. This is a deal we’ve had in place for many years and it’s worked superbly. Don’t get me wrong, it is totally normal to hear my daughter complaining that she wants to watch her favourite programmes and that as I mother, she feels I’m being mean. Often through exhaustion or hearing my name ‘Mummy’ for the 100th time, I give in. The majority of the time I put my foot down and distract her with a board game or two. 

Where was I? Let’s get back to the story….. Andrew was reading a book for our Hungry Little Minds campaign. The book is called ‘I Need A Wee’ by Sue Hendra. The moment Andrew introduced the book, Oscar (his son) looked up and giggled. I kept having to exclaim a directors “Cut” as his laughter kept interrupting our recording. Andrew continued to read the book but Oscar could not hold in his laughter. 

So…. my light bulb moment was to ask Oscar to be in the video. That way he could giggle to his heart’s content and it would be perfect for the message we were try to get across. Now this was a natural process and it was beautiful to witness. You can even hear me giggling with them.

How wonderful is it when a book can make a beautiful moment between a father and son? You could clearly see they already had a wonderful bond but this book made 7 year old Oscar put down his device and pay attention to the magical words falling off the page. He was glued….. and that my friends is the magic of reading.

The Hungry Little Minds campaign is here to encourage parents and guardians to interact with their children. The YouTube video you are about to click is proof that it actually works. This shows us it’s time to put away the devices, sit with your creation and start to ‘Chat, Play and Read’. There is nothing better than the sound of your child’s laughter.

Please know from my heart to yours that I too have questioned whether I’m doing the right thing as a parent. Am I raising them or spoiling them? All I can say is this, I try my best to make my children happy. Their mental wellbeing is as important as their physical. I endeavour to always keep their well being at the forefront of my mind and I pray I am doing a good job. Time will tell.

Elle Cato
Wellbeing Champion and Ambassador
The Institute of Wellbeing