Alice bounds into the library, just in time to see the tails of Mr Rabbit’s coat disappearing through the closing door.
“Mr Rabbit,” she cries, “Oh, do wait for me, Mr Rabbit.”
The door hesitates, and then slowly swings back open.
A quivering nose peers around the edge of the doorframe, followed by a pair of pink eyes behind wire-rimmed spectacles.
“Alice, is that you, dear girl? How wonderful to find you in the library? I was just passing through the secret door into Wonderland. Would you care to join me?”
“Oh, yes, thank you, Mr Rabbit.”
Alice bolts across the floor and slips through the doorway between the numerous volumes of leather-bound books into a world of fantasy and imagination.
Alice looks around. She is not in a dark hole, tumbling down, down, down, towards the centre of the earth; she is in a large hall.
On one side of the room stands a bank of computers. Children sit in front of the blinking screens with their eyes riveted on the flickering figures in front of them. Headphones cover their ears, making them look like aliens from outer space. Although dozens of children sit in front of a similar number of machines, no one speaks, there is no discussion or banter, each child is focused solely on their own game. The only sound is the soft movement of the many mice across the mouse pads.
“Wow,” whispers Alice, “look how immersed the children are in their games. They are completely transfixed.”
“Yes, they are,” agrees Mr Rabbit, “they barely take the time to blink.”
A happy murmur of voices attracts Alice’s attention to the other side of the sizable hall. A large group of small children are gathered around a central teacher who is reading to them from a large book. Every now and then the teacher pauses, holding up the book so that the children can see the illustrations. The soft babble is the children admiring the pictures and asking the teacher questions. Bookshelves line the walls, and this side of the hall is happy and welcoming, filled with bean bags and relaxed and smiling children.
Older children look through the books on the shelves, carefully removing a book and reading the blurb, before either returning it to the shelf or walking over to a bean bag and sitting down to read. Alice watches as an older girl explains a difficult word to a younger boy.
Mr Rabbit stands in the middle of the room. In one hand he holds a computer mouse and in the other, a bookmark.
“One side will grow your comprehension, reading skills, empathy and imagination,” he says, “and the other will shorten your concentration span and reduce your ability to cope, socialise and deal with stress. Choose carefully, Alice, as your choice will change you forever.”
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Here is a song for your to enjoy that relates to this prompt: