In all the talk about social, racial and economic “privilege,” you may have missed the bit about bed-time reading privilege. According to a philosophy professor from England, reading to our children is just one more way we put disadvantaged children at a, well, disadvantage.
In an interview with ABC last spring, Adam Swift stopped just short of saying parents shouldn’t read to their kids. But they should, apparently, feel bad about it. And private school? Well, there is just no excuse for that. He was pretty clear on that point.
“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.
He even flirted with the idea that abolishing the family altogether would help solve the “social justice problem,” but pulled back and finally conceded that children having caring (reading?) parents makes a “special contribution to the flourishing and well-being of adults.”
Of course weakening the family has contributed to the “social justice problem.” If there is one thing every kid needs, it’s engaged parents. And one way we engage them is reading to them. There is no need to feel guilty.
There is a need to do something about it, however. Everywhere around you there are children who need someone to read to them. Maybe it’s the neighbor’s kid. Or the kids of that working single mom at church. Maybe it’s your own kid.
But it is definitely a privilege everyone deserves.