Television can encourage reading in several ways. While it has a penchant for being mind-numbing and producing a vegetative-like state, the rapid rate at which it imparts information, the plethora of topics, and the visual imagery options to get brains hooked, make it a very powerful tool for encouraging reading.
The downside to watching TV is the time vacuum it can create. Sit down to watch one show, and three hours later, you are still sitting there, eyes glued to the screen, chastising yourself for sitting there like a bump on a log, but not able to walk away. Reading does the same thing, but for some reason, we feel less guilty for doing it.
So how can a time-sucking, visually seducing, box of imagery actually encourage reading, especially for the wee brains of youngsters? Watching TV offers a variety of subjects to explore and gain an interest in, exposes the viewer to reading opportunities they might not otherwise know about, and gives glimpses of the possibilities of the imagination.
What is watched plays a major role in developing the things we have an interest in. Without knowing what kinds of things are available for us to like, or dislike, we would have no idea what we have an interest in and what we don't. TV has the potential to expose us to any number of subjects that we can take a liking to, stirring us to learn more about that subject.
TV shows based on books
George R.R. Martin's HBO series, "Game of Thrones" aside, although it is probably one of the most talked about influences to read the book series to date for a TV show, there are so many others that we probably don't even realize that provide reading opportunities. Many cartoons, like "Arthur," "Clifford the Big Red Dog" and "Rose Red," a book-to-TV miniseries by Stephen King, are just a few examples. Children and adults alike seem to enjoy seeing more about their favorite characters from a series they watch regularly.
Digital vs. mental imagery
Even though a TV series is so much easier and faster to absorb, the depths of imagery that can be reached when accessing the imagination vs. just seeing the images flashed before you are another push to read. The details that the brain picks up in the split second that a digital image is viewed are far less beautiful and intricate than the image our brains can come up with from just a brief, well-written description. Watching a show about the future just cannot go where the brain can while reading.
Watching TV can be a great inspiration to read. Finding new subjects to learn more about, wanting to know more about things that are seen, and our brain's ability to make the images so much more vibrant than a box on the wall can, are just the tip of the iceberg.
So, go ahead, let your brain veg-out on a new series.