Special to the California Globe by Emilie Kefalas
If you don’t have a child in public schools in California, you might not be aware of the dramatic — some might even say radical — shift in the curriculum content in schools. The state has pivoted away from extolling anything virtuous about the heroes of American history in favor of the trend toward erasing it altogether.
For many reasons this is troubling, and it keeps me — a 25 year-old children’s book writer with no kids, who’s not even from California — up at night. But, as California goes, so goes the nation.
I care about our nation. However, instead of fretting over this, I am trying to be part of a solution.
My book, “A Capitol Dream,” is an illustrated story about a young lady who takes a tour of the U.S. Capitol building with historical figures who come to life, such as George Washington and Frederick Douglass.
This book will force your child to turn pages, feel paper and fold corners, and maybe even snuggle up and ask you (as opposed to Siri) to define a word or explain a sentence! This encourages developing the wonderful habit of reading, something far better for your brain than asking a device to perform parlor tricks, just to keep your young ones distracted.
A study published earlier this year in JAMA Pediatrics featured the findings from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center which compared brain scans of 47 healthy children ages 3 to 5. Children who exceeded the one-hour-per-day guideline for screen time had lower structural integrity of white matter in parts of their brains associated with literacy skills. These include major cognitive abilities such as imagery, self-regulation, and mental control.
Children who exceeded the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines also performed worse on cognitive tests, meaning they had lower expressive language and were slower to name objects in tests of processing speed.
The offspring raised and reared by my generation are literally being live-streamed and exposed to portable electronics from the moment they arrive in the delivery room. Yikes!
A book as a present under the Christmas tree or on the seventh night of Hanukkah contains a battery power unlike any other, and that is the power of brain development. A book that tells one of the many good stories about our country’s history and encourages curiosity about the big picture is uncommon, This is why I wrote one, and plan two more books as part of a series on famous rooms and buildings in Washington, D.C.
The most valuable gift you can give a child this holiday season is a book. Starting out young children with a love for storytelling and reading physical books is good for their brains and great for their futures.
Burbank, CA resident Emilie Kefalas is a 25 year-old writer from Decatur, Illinois. She is a 2018 graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s renowned writing program. ‘A Capitol Dream’ is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
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