eBooks have become the fastest growing sector of children’s publishing. All major publishing houses now have eBooks and apps sections and all major book selling sites such as Kalahari, Amazon, Exclusives have them too. In addition to story books, the apps teaching children how to read have also increased exponentially and many parents buy them hoping for a fast track to literacy.
I have to admit to being a fan of the 3D version of books. Usually, when I reach for a bedtime story book, I never think of choosing my kindle. I want to hold a book and lift it up, flip the pages back and forth and let my son and daughter hold the book to do shared reading at times. I know – you can do most of this with an eBook, but there’s something about the feel and smell of a book that I can’t seem to move away from.
When I travel it’s a different story – I’ll grab a few chapter books for the kids and load my books onto my kindle. Which I have to say is rather old fashioned with it’s colourless pages – and doesn’t compare to downloading a book onto the family iPad. What’s really bugging me about the whole eBook issue though are several reports that eBooks miss some of the vital links needed for establishing good reading skills. A recent piece in the New York Time’s Motherlode section points to a study that found that student’s reading comprehension was higher when they read conventional books. They also found that young readers ‘often skip over the text completely, rather engaging with the book’s interactive visual features.’ Children end up seeing the book, not reading it. The children’s book I once downloaded had my son focused on making the animals eat the fruit off the tree – not reading the words and at the end he didn’t seem to understand the story. I feel these interactive features – while fun – rob them of their own creativity and imagination.
With a big overseas family trip coming up I’m starting to think eBook – with a caveat. I want books – no bells, whistles or talking bits. I want good stories with challenging vocabulary, new ideas and engaging characters. So I’m downloading some books for my 8, 10 and 13 year old and I’ll let you know their feedback. In the meantime, let me know what you think of eBooks. Do you buy them, want to try or not interested? And what device do you use?
If you do want a trial, here’s a list of recommended e-Books from the author Annie Murphy Paul in the New York Times :
For beginning readers
“Blue Hat, Green Hat” by Sandra Boynton, “Go, Clifford, Go!” by Norman Bridwell, “Meet Biscuit” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, “Nickelby Swift, Kitten Catastrophe” by Ben Hecht, “Miss Spider’s Tea Party” by David Kirk, “A Fine Musician” by Lucy Thomson.
For fluent readers
“Slice of Bread Goes to the Beach” by Glenn Melenhorst, “Who Would Win? Killer Whale Vs. Great White Shark” by Jerry Pallotta, “Wild About Books” by Judy Sierra, “The Artifacts” by Lynley Stace and Dan Hare.