This summer's theme for a library reading program for kids is
superheroes. The youngsters would do well to read Unplugged: Ella
Gets Her Family Back. Ella, the protagonist, is a superhero for our
times. Let me tell you why.
Ella has noticed something that really bothers her. Her family
members are increasingly absorbed by their individual electronic
devices, tuning each other out. Mom is constantly on her cell phone,
too busy to make blueberry waffles. Dad has stuff to read on his
computer. Sister Maya texts nonstop. Brother Carlos is caught up in
Ella can remember when her family talked to each other and did
things together. She does not like the direction in which they are
going. When she tries to talk about it the others won't pay
attention. So she finds a most creative to get them to listen and
make her point.
Penny Weber's illustrations really help bring the story to
life. Curly haired Ella is vivid, confident, expressive, powerful.
Her hooked on electronics family looks truly zombified. Their
appearance on the last few pages is a lot more hopefully.
Our electronic devices are decidedly mixed blessings. Probably
their biggest danger comes when they cease being things we can use and
put down. Even little kids are spending too much time in virtual
world at a great cost to real world activities and relationships. It
happens slowly, insidiously, incrementally, below the level of
consciousness. The task for people of all ages and families is to
become conscious of how we allocate time and attention and make the
choices and decisions mindfully so we can attain a healthy balance
between real and virtual worlds. Unplugged is a good ice breaker for
having this discussion in any family with young children.
On a personal note, one thing that happened at the marathon really
bothered me. A woman was running with a meagerly dressed baby in a
stroller. At one point she noticed the infant was nonresponsive and
turning blue. She handed the child to a volunteer and went on to
finish the race. Fortunately the volunteer knew first aid for
hypothermia and where to find a nurse. But really. Putting a
marathon over one's own baby turning blue. To me that is just not
A great big shout out goes out to the first aid savvy volunteer and
his nurse friend. Without their rapid response a sporting event could
have become a tragedy.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod