As I delve back into my reader and spend more time monitoring my Twitter streams, it seems that one of the trending topics is “books on screen.” I’m not talking about books adapted into movies, but book-type products like e-books, digital books, and apps that are stories.
That’s got me thinking about e-Readers and literacy in the 21st Century. E-Readers as in emergent readers, not digital devices. I don’t own an app-capable phone, a tablet PC, or even an MP3 player, but I do have a Nook (“old school” … chapter books only). Would I feel differently if I owned one of these other devices and my daughter was still an emergent reader? I don’t know, but I’m sure I’m not the only one with these questions, so here goes …
Yes: Screen reading is a necessary piece of our development as successful, informed individuals.
No: Books for children (like picture books) offer visuals and can be held in their hands just as easily.
Is it hard to sit together with a child and read a screen-book?
Yes: Having a digital book (or music) at the ready when I’m standing in the grocery line with my 3-year-old would be handy entertainment. It certainly fits better in my purse than a picture book.
No: It is important for children need to learn how to entertain themselves without stimulation.
Are books on screen something we share together, a tool for independent activity, or just something to keep handy as a melt-down preventer?
Yes: They see us continually looking at a screen, talking on our phone, playing with our computer. We don’t sit together to read aloud or talk about what we see on a page.
No: Our kids see us using our literacy skills: gathering information, communicating with others, etc. They see just how integral reading is to our daily life.
Is “screen time” something to be conscious of or just a fact of life that some of us old timers need to adjust to?
Yes: Typing is not writing (i.e., forming letters); and auto-correct doesn’t help them learn spelling and punctuation rules. When we’re focused on our screens we’re not looking at other people and may not even hear them when they’re speaking to us.
No: Texting has been shown to extend/reinforce literacy skills, and kids can still formulate their thoughts.
Is there a long-term impact on interpersonal skills when devices become a primary means of communication?
My hope is that these questions lead to more questions and discussion. Those “yes” and “no” responses are merely thinking-out-loud observations. Frankly, I don’t know what the answers are. I watch with amazement and frustration at how my 9-year-old jumps to the computer for answers to her questions (big and small) and for her primary means of entertainment. She grew up with books and loves them, but will borrow the Nook every chance she gets.
What do you think the future of reading is for our kids?
Image credits (images above also link to source)
Grocery Cart – ShopCart2 by Gillian Lightstone on Picasa.com
Infant watching adult typing – CD Bank by Jaypee Rajin on Picasa.com
iPhone – iPhone 3G by Charlie Anzman (Digital and Tech Daily)