What might our kids be missing if they only read e-books?
From classic favorites like Where the Wild Things Are to more modern tales like the Harry Potter series, books will play an important role in both your child’s learning and relaxing time. But technology puts a twist on the concept of a “book” for this generation of kids. Does the electronic book take something away from the reading experience?
While some parents make weekly trips to the local library, with our crazy schedules it’s not always possible to have a stack of new books available for bedtime. Bookboard is a subscription service that brings unlimited reading and over 300 books right to your iPad through an app. Parents set up a profile for each child including gender, age and reading level. Kids can “unlock” new books as they finish books, and choices are based on an ever-changing algorithm of your child’s interests and comprehension level, among other things.
You can try Bookboard for free, but after the initial free period you pay a charge of either $8.99 per month or $29.94 for six months. You can have up to four child reader accounts and unlimited reading, plus there are elements of a “game” like goals and achievements that entice potentially reluctant readers to read more on their own. Parents can also get a report of their child’s reading progress.
Book lovers have been quick to mourn the death of the “real” book with so many reading options being offered in a digital form. Many would argue that encouraging youngsters to read and providing them with content — digital or not — is the most important thing you can do for them.
Kristen McLean is the founder and CEO of Bookigee, an innovative startup that develops products and services to help transform the book publishing industry. She was previously the executive director of the Association of Booksellers for Children.
In an article she wrote for Publishing Perspectives, McLean says, “The most pessimistic opinions tell us that the book as we know it is dead, but I don’t believe it.” She goes on to challenge the notion that an entire industry is dying in the wake of e-book popularity. “I have to say, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future of books and the potential of upcoming generations,” says McLean. “Why? I believe that the drive to use new technologies is going to achieve what more than 150 years of public education could not — nearly 100 percent literacy.”
Jordan Shapiro is the father of two young boys and teaches at Temple University. In an article he wrote for Forbes he writes, “I’ve often wondered how my kids think about books. Both the digital book and the print book have always been a normal part of their bedtime routine. It is not a choice between print or e-books. My boys have always had both,” he adds.
Parents we spoke with seemed confident that the availability of e-books and reading-related apps would not replace good old-fashioned books.
“My kids love their reading apps,” says Ann, mother of two. “But we still gather a big bag of library books when we can, and they love to read!” A few parents even felt that when kids see their parents reading books on a mobile device, that sets a good example for their kids. “I personally read more than I did before, now that I have a Kindle. So yes, she [her daughter] sees me reading and wants to read too,” says Katie, mother of two.
Maybe there is an issue beyond paper versus screen? How we as parents engage our children through books and other media helps them develop analytical skills. “Here’s what we need to change: Adults need to get better at understanding and encouraging active engagement with media,” says McLean on her blog.
“In general we tend to lack understanding of exactly how sophisticated a learning tool a great children’s book can be. Asking questions about the story, looking for details in the illustrations, anticipating what might happen next — these kinds of activities create great analytical skills and an empowered reader. This kind of reader,” she adds, “will hopefully go on to ask better questions of all media, evaluate the quality of information and make thoughtful decisions about what is worthy of their attention.”
What do you think? Do your children use reading apps or e-readers?
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