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A Yes-to-Reading, No-to-TV Manifesto

By Aaron Shepard

For more resources, visit Aaron Shepard’s Parent Page at

Copyright © 1997 Aaron Shepard. May be freely copied and shared for any noncommercial purpose as long as no text is altered or omitted.

It is now well known that the best way to raise readers is to read to them aloud. This is true even once they can read themselves—because reading to them helps them advance in skill and also provides a role model.

But why talk about reading and TV together? Because reading, or being read to, is one of the very best things for a young person, while sitting for hours in front of a TV is one of the worst.

Reading, or listening to reading, builds language skills, stimulates the imagination, cultivates empathy, and spurs physical development of the brain. TV, requiring almost no brain activity, leads to stunted development, attention deficit, hyperactivity, and desensitization to violence. Even “educational” programs can be harmful!

As adults, most of us use TV as a drug to relax our minds after a hard day of work. Perhaps for us it is not so bad. But what effect does that same drug have on a brain that is still developing? You don't allow children to drink as much alcohol as you. Why allow them to watch as much or more TV?

For the sake of our kids and the world they’ll inherit, let’s face this monster NOW!