Why I Read Twaddle…

Merriam Webster defines twaddle as:

  1. 1a :  silly idle talk :  drivel b :  something insignificant or worthless :  nonsense <that idea is pure twaddle>

  2. 2:  one that twaddles :  twaddler

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In homeschool circles, twaddle is defined by British educator Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) as such:

“Many who would not read even a brilliant novel of a certain type, sit down to read twaddle without scruple. Nothing is too scrappy, nothing is too weak to ‘pass the time!’ The ‘Scraps’ literature of railway bookstalls is symptomatic. We do not all read scraps, under whatever piquant title, but the locust-swarm of this class of literature points to the small reading power amongst us. The mischief begins in the nursery. No sooner can a child read at all than hosts of friendly people show their interest in him by a present of a ‘pretty book.’ A ‘pretty book’ is not necessarily a picture-book, but one in which the page is nicely broken up in talk or short paragraphs. Pretty books for the schoolroom age follow those for the nursery, and, nursery and schoolroom outgrown, we are ready for ‘Mudie’s’ lightest novels; the succession of ‘pretty books’ never fails us; we have no time for works of any intellectual fibre, and we have no more assimilating power than has the schoolgirl who feeds upon cheese-cakes”

The problem with this thought process is that as moms, we are often so overly engaged throughout the day that we don’t want to overthink things in our down time.  I mean, figuring out what to make for dinner, with little to no food on hand, or juggling 2 soccer practices at the same time in 2 different locations ACROSS town from each other is stressful enough that it is nice to just pick up a good book and relax at the end of the day.

Twaddle to me is a novel that is providing little to no intellectual stimulation.  I am not really learning anything but I am enjoying myself immensely.  Twaddle is television for those who fancy themselves as too sophisticated to be entertained by TV, or just prefer to feel better about themselves in the pursuit of mindless entertainment.

Now that you know what twaddle is, as defined by me, here is why I read it:

  1. It is so much better than watching TV!  Watching TV is passive while reading engages your mind.  You can learn a lot about spelling and grammar from reading, even if it is a poorly written book – that will teach you what not to do.
  2. Reading is relaxing.  You can pay attention or not.  If the book is truly twaddle, you probably know how it is going to end so letting your mind wander is not that big of a deal.
  3. Twaddle still contains vocabulary just like the classics.  The difference is you usually know what most of the words mean.  If you copy the speech patterns of your favorite character, people aren’t going to look at you like you have two heads.
  4. Twaddle doesn’t keep you up at night – at least it shouldn’t!  The blue light from televisions and computer screens prevents the release of melatonin which is a key hormone associated with sleep.  The light also tricks your body into thinking it is daytime, messing with your sleep patterns.
  5. Twaddle is entertaining.  ‘Nuff said.  🙂

Sometimes, you just have to kick back and not worry about what you should be doing, and just do what you want to be doing.  That is where twaddle comes in.  Yes, you should be setting a better example for your school-age children but you also realize that you gave in to your 9 year-old reluctant reader and let him check Captain Underpants out at the library.  Your thinking was, “At least he is reading, and it is better than TV.”  This is what you told Grandma as well when she balked at the title of his book.  Well, that applies to you as well.