As previously mentioned, I use Twitter as a resource for professional development, staying current with news and parenting related issues. Sometimes I read the statements made and skip the article, and the impression is made, regardless of whether I have the whole story. This tweet caught my attention over Christmas break.
I love books. Since the fourth grade some of my best friends have been characters from novels, children's books, and historical literature. My Masters is in Reading and Literacy and my Board Certification is in Early Childhood. I love technology. Since middle school when I dialed up and connected to the world I have embraced all the convienences and wonder of technological toys.
So the question of which is better, ebooks or good old print books has been on my mind a lot. As a reader. As a mother. As a teacher. I have hundreds (probably at least a thousand) of childrens books. I have stacks and boxes of books for me. And I have debated the idea within since I loaded my first book onto my iPad, and before that, the cd-roms onto my first classroom computer containing Dr Seuss and Little Critter books. Is an e-book better, the same, or worse for children (and, by extension adults)?
My first thought on reading this (because I am a bit naive and trusting of those doing research, with PhD's, or published in the Times) was well, shoot, I've been messing up my daughter (who LOVES ebooks) and my students too.
Then when I reread the article I became a little fired up and a rant rose up within me!
So as not to let my professional opinion be misunderstood, let me be clear. I want what is best for children. If research shows ereaders are BAD or 'impede' learning when compared to regular print I will delete every book on my iPads. After reading these blogs/articles though, I think the title of the article and the research it is based on are misleading.
One article rated parent child interactions "When watching Scholastic books on video".... Did you read that? They were WATCHING a video and the author of the article compared ereaders to a video. I have the scholastic videos. I like them. If I chose to show one in my classroom during instructional time I do pause it and discuss the video with the kids. At home, though, it's a movie and I WATCH it with my kids. Cardinal rule in my house- do NOT talk during a movie.
E-readers are NOT movies. Or, at least they SHOULDN'T be. Just like some apps are duds, some ebooks should not count as books. Scholastic books made into movies are NOT a book. They are a video. Watching Twilight is not the same as reading the novel, and certainly your vocabulary and understanding of character motivation won't be the same either.
The other article that referenced research was done several YEARS ago, before the iPad was made, and other portable touch devices went mainstream. It said parents were more concerned with how their child handled the device and with navigating the story. Tablets are pretty indestructible now and frankly most 4 year olds (and my daughter when she was 2) can navigate the iPad more fluently than most adults.
I was shocked when the author of the article said she didn't read on ereaders because she wants her child to see her 'reading'. My 3 year old sees no disctinction between her digital books or traditional books. She sees me reading with my Kindle app and with traditional books and says 'Can I read with you mommy?'. Then she gets a book or ebook and reads along with me or asks me about the book I am reading. Whether you read a newspaper, a magazine, a novel, an ebook or an encyclapedia- modeling reading is modeling reading.
So, while I think that these articles certainly remind us that parents need guidence on reading with their children (with BOTH traditional books and ebooks) I wholeheartedly disaggree with their 'findings.' Ebooks are just like print books- the quality depends on the author and the learning your child takes away from it depends on their interactions with the book and the person reading with them.
Ranting aside, my next blog post will be about GOOD ebooks... the ones that are even BETTER than their print copy, just as good, or better than not reading at all. I will also share how I use them in my classroom.
For now though, my 3 year old thinks you should read The Monster at the End of This Book. I've read the app version and the golden book version- both are excellent. She prefers the app. I love that she reads it with me, I read it to her, and she can listen to the story when I am making dinner. So, go. Read a book. Until the research is relevant, current and a little less biased I say read in any way that you enjoy, or that encourages a love of literature.