Does Digital Reading Save or Lose?, Part 1
People might be surprised to learn that today’s children are reading a lot more on their devices than their parents’ generation did, but as it turns out, what kids read on their computers, phones, and tablets today isn’t really all that different from what they read a generation or so ago.
Even kids in the baby boomer generation tend to read some of the same books as kids today do. And now that computers and tablets are prevalent, reading devices have provided a way for a baby boomer to read books about anything and everything—from vampire tales to Gene Autry.
Harnessing Today’s Technology for Future Literacy
Most publishers, including Dell and Amazon, sell young adult books with books optimized for tablets, the most popular being Kindle and Nook. The BooksLit app, however, is unlike any children’s book published so far.
Just as Jamie Foxx is the star of the Blockers movie, so too is Eric Schmitt the lead star of the BooksLit app. Schmitt, a prolific writer, multimedia author, and self-publishing rights holder, creates —and stars in—early storybooks available through the BooksLit app.
Schmitt is a skilled storyteller and most of his books are simple stories for young children who like to read but who never really get the chance to read a full story. The Songs of George George follows George George, an energetic second grader, as he journeys through the jungle and discovers the music he’s been searching for all along. In Bear’s Big Game Hearing, other children in school have learned the names of the bears they will need to chase through the woods.
If Bear’s Big Game Hearing is the most notable example of books and app adaptations of Schmitt’s work, BooksLit StoryTune is the easiest one for the more casual reader and the least likely to garner the attention of the library or librarian.
In this story, eight third graders are tasked with completing four reading assignments. The only problem? The tasks are for songs. Thanks to the app, the sounds made by eight different children on instruments and accents across the United States are combined into a fitful jam composed to make the grade.
Will the Silent Generation Be Aloud by the Time One in Five Families Own a Tablet?
If your children enjoy reading, they may be excited about the new BooksLit app because of its ability to familiarize them with the written word. As a result, some of the same books they’re reading on devices are the same ones we wrote and published 100 years ago, including one in which children commit murder to paper while trying to stop an animal attack. However, the biggest difference between the book of this century and the books we wrote a century ago is that we have no control over who reads or has access to the material.
A generation of well-equipped, technically advanced devices and content that is easy to access for anyone might push children to rely on digital reading, but they are not going to read all of the books on their platforms. Even the popular novels with songs feature only six or seven songs and no paragraphs.
Many parents would prefer a child read the novel by themselves or finish a book before they could get together with their family for a special reading activity. Yet today’s kids will want to have access to the latest novel from the comfort of their laptop, an app, or a gaming device.
As with any technology, we need to recognize the benefits of technology and question the negatives, but reading is not going to lose its popularity anytime soon, so long as readers have some encouragement to read and a way to read what they want to read, whether that be in print or onscreen.
Holly Korbey is senior VP, corporate content strategies and business development at CreateSpace, Inc.