I love books. From a very young age I’ve been surrounded by them. Something about the feel and even the smell of books is, to me, incredibly comforting. My original childhood favorites, now with yellow pages and torn covers, still sit on my bookshelf. Perusing through those books instantly transports me back to days when books were entertainment to me. Technology was in its infancy, and I struggle trying to imagine reading such classics as “The Velveteen Rabbit” in a digital format.
As winter is now fully upon us, I cherish curling up on the couch with a good book. Something about turning down a corner, tucking the cover in the book as a bookmark, or hearing the crack of the spine, gives me a sense of accomplishment. I enjoy flipping through the pages to see how far I’ve read and how far I have to go, which can either be a good or bad thing, depending on the plot. The stack of books on my nightstand has grown so tall that it has carried over to the floor. I have been banned from buying anymore bookshelves, as my living room has turned into a mini library.
I realize that in this age of technology, many people find e-readers more convenient and less cumbersome, especially during travel. Older children may prefer the e-reader as part of the “cool factor,” and if that motivates children to want to read or have more stories read to them, then so be it. These devices do have their place for children who may have impairments in which books may be inaccessible to them. For children who are dyslexic and/or have poor eyesight, e-books may open a new door to literacy. Almost all e-reader or tablets have the ability to change the size of the text, making it easier to read.
As I work with children who struggle reading, there is nothing more satisfying than watching them begin to truly engage with books. The process of navigating the text, hi-lighting details and vocabulary, (yes, I encourage writing in books), and the recognition of text features, are all key strategies that improve comprehension. Research tells us that “the sensory experiences typically associated with reading—especially tactile experiences—matter to people more than one might assume. Text on a computer, an e-reader and—somewhat ironically—on any touch-screen device is far more intangible than text on paper.”
Some people find technology more convenient, while others find the weight and smell of books to be comforting. Whatever your choice, it’s important to have balance – ensure your child sees a page as often as they see a screen. If your e-reader has internet capability, it’s easy to get distracted. Be sure to monitor how it is being used. Are they reading, or are they on Snapchat?
If you love a book enough to keep it, it stays on your shelf, like an old friend that you can stop by and visit whenever you like. Of course your E-books are always in your library too, but they lack accessibility, especially on those evenings just before bed, when your child grabs their favorite book and asks, “Read it to me just one more time….”