Traditional Books vs. Ebooks – Go Digital or Not?

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My husband, a teacher and school principal, have talked about the issue of traditional books vs. ebooks several times in the past year. The big movement in our country is pushing technology into the schools and in the classrooms (and rightfully so) but the big debate has always been how much technology is TOO much. Some schools have replaced traditional classroom teaching time with Twitter feed interactions. Many schools are now choosing to go without textbooks. Companies are even creating iPad cases for babies and toddlers, and now the new controversy is the iPad holder that attaches to potty seats for potty training! Will we soon have an app that teachers babies how to crawl? In my opinion there is a fine line on when and how much technology to use with kids and with possibly no true right or wrong answer. You cannot draw a definitive line and say this is the only way to use it.

  Our current generation, MY kids generation, is growing up with more technology than I did as a kid, and I’m still in my 20’s! I remember having an old Apple box computer, a “cell” phone contraption welded into our vehicle, and being terrified even AFTER college 8 years ago to buy a digital camera because I was afraid it would lose my pictures. Remember when pagers were the big thing? I’m not talking 30 or 40 years ago – I’m talking less than 10 years ago! Now doctors are creating robotic arms to move just by reading your thoughts and kids are hacking FBI and CIA websites – it’s just something I would have never dreamed of growing up. But something else I never dreamed of as a kid was the enormous rate of disabilities, autistic kids, learning disabled kids, and other things that seemed at a minimum rate growing up. Nor did I imagine how technology could be mobilized either.

  I found an interesting report from Scholastic  this week addressing the issue of traditional books vs. ebooks. Certainly not a new debate but one that is becoming more readily accept. Being “older” than the ebook technology I prefer to have a real book in my hands, but I have found that I have MORE opportunity to read and easier access to books by using my e-reader. I don’t have to worry about trips to the library, overdue fees, or catching a ride to the library. Scholastic  reports show that half of parents say their kids don’t spend enough time reading AND that children who read ebooks still also read print books. Choosing to read ebooks does not mean you are making traditional books obsolete – I simply look at it as another convenient option. Here are a few facts from their reports:

  • The percent of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%). 
  • Half of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks – a 50% increase since 2010.
  • Overall, about half of parents (49%) feel their children do not spend enough time reading books for fun – an increase from 2010 when 36% of parents were dissatisfied with time their child spent reading
  • Seventy-two percent of parents show an interest in having their child read ebooks.
Interestingly enough (but not surprising) the study also shows that boys are more motivated to read for fun with access to ebooks. It also showed that moderately frequent readers become frequent readers with ebooks. Whether or not you read faster or slower on an ereader compared to a traditional book that ONE fact alone to me is enough for me to promote ereaders. Children who occasionally read books become FREQUENT readers when using ebooks. MORE reading is ALWAYS a plus in my book. There have been some tremendous children’s series written in the last 5 years and any time an author can get kids lined up outside book stores for hours at midnight just to buy and read a large book makes me want to WHOOP and shout KUDOS to you author!
Libraries will not go out of style – they will still be around in 50 years. So I encourage you – TAKE YOUR KIDS TO THE LIBRARIES! But don’t be scared of ereaders either! Teach your children how to use the library online and offline in it’s fullest capacity. Encourage both kinds of reading. You may just be surprised!

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  1. My problem isnt with the technology. it’s how the children are using it. If all these kids start reading mostly on ebooks with color screens they are essentially staring at a light bulb the entire time reading! The rate of bad vision is going to go up from all the “computer” screen time. The only ebook I would even consider for my children to read on all the time would be the basic e-ink screen type! It kills me that the schools are not looking at the bigger picture of children’s vision when thinking of making the switch to ebooks…

  2. Becca - Our Crazy Boys says:

    I’m struggling with this. I have an ereader, and it’s convenient, but most books aren’t lendable, so I feel like it’s a waste! I love passing my books on after I read them.

    My son will be getting a Kindle from school tomorrow – they have decided to go digital!

  3. It took me forever to move to digital books but now I love them. I find I read more often because it’s so easy to take with me and I also read a wider variety of books due to their easy accessibility. If I see it on a show or in an ad I can order it and have it in my hand in under a minute.

  4. Kerri @SavvyMomNYC says:

    I think there should be the best of both worlds. My daughters enjoy both, but when it comes time to snuggling in bed together at bedtime, a traditional book is always chosen.

  5. As a parent, I think ebooks are a great idea for kids, and I agree with all of the reasons you stated in the article. However, as a teacher, I think that they need actual textbooks available. For me, the best of both worlds would be to have digital copies to access at home, and maybe a class set of books in the room. I think this because I used a nook for a few textbooks in college. It worked great for reading assignments, but when I needed to go back to look things up, it was really hard. You can’t flip through the pages to find what you are looking for as easily as you can in a text. You don’t always know what page you want to go to, and it’s much harder in an ebook to easily find things. Granted, I had a nook 1st edition at the time, and my tablet is now much easier to flip through, but I still wouldn’t want to use it when looking for non specific information!

  6. Up until now we’ve been reading old school books, haha. We just bought a tablet though, so I think we’re going to try a few ebooks now.

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