Luddite Leanings

Hannah learning to do ribs from Uncle Murray14-year-old granddaughter Hannah looked up from their supper table and said, “I don’t understand that clock.”

I was a bit puzzled since I’d been admiring both its beauty and the musical hour chime until I noticed the numbers. “Don’t they teach you Roman numerals these days?” I asked.

Son Mark kicked in with the real explanation, “Mom, she knows Roman numerals. She means she doesn’t understand the clock face. She’s used to digital clocks.”

I can’t really fault Hannah since I have equal difficulty going the other way. She raises her eyebrows when I profess pride in learning a bit of technology that is old hat to her. I’ve just headed toward the twenty-first century with the purchase of a Kindle and am facing moments when I want to say, “I don’t understand this kind of book.” I’ve held out in the face of friends and family who’ve espoused its advantages, pleading a love of turning pages and holding a book in my hands. Hannah’s had hers since Christmas and didn’t consider learning to use it a big deal.

As I’ve been prodded or coerced to learn to use a computer, I’ve sympathized with nineteenth century Luddites who smashed the machinery causing their problems. Taking a sledge hammer to my computer has occurred to me more than once. And I still own a dumb phone with no texting. However, time for change does come.

Three recent trips convinced me to take the plunge. On the first trip, I wagged a bunch of heavy books to be sure I didn’t run out of reading material before I got home only to leave two unopened and unread. The second trip was worse since I didn’t take enough books and would up with two days left on the trip with nothing to read. On the third trip at Easter, daughter Anna insisted that I read on her Kindle to check out its ease of use. She also touted the number of free classics to be ordered, knowing I was a sucker for rereading the ones introduced to me in high school by Mrs. Bounds. Thinking of my estimate errors on the number of books to take and looking at travel time for the summer, I decided it was time. I am now the proud owner of a Kindle – still working on complete understanding of this kind of book.  

I think I shall always love a book with pages to be turned and a place on my bench in the shady nook of my yard with a glass of iced tea. But on our last trip, I did enjoy the security of having six books on cue to be dialed up as the Kindle slid into my purse taking up less space than my spiral steno pad.

In her speech at the recent Children’s Book Festival, Jane Yolen said that our ways of reaching them may change but what has always been and what will remain are the stories. I’ll vote for that.