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Old 09-08-2010, 10:26 AM   #1
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Why young children require paper books over ebooks (at Teleread)

I posted this on Teleread yesterday and thought people might be interested. I make some points I don't think anyone has made yet, coming from my position as an educator. For example I compare the paper book/ebook question in reading to the calculator/math manipulative question in teaching math. There is a thriving industry in educational toys of the 'math manipulative' and the invention of the calculator has not threatened it at all...
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:55 AM   #2
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I agree 100 percent. I just wrote a long reply over at teleread which I hope adds some cogent points. I won't copy it over here. I figure if anybody is interested enough so they go to it. If someone wants to copy my reply at teleread to this thread feel free to do so
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Old 09-08-2010, 01:21 PM   #3
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Does the child rely on other cues to try and tell the story? Do they play-read, for example, by describing to you the illustrations? Do they reach the final page in the book and announce ‘the end’ thus demonstrating that they understand how to determine their place in the text? They need the visual cues for this. And you need to see them interact with the physical object so that you can assess whether they are using these cues!
Eventually, at some point in the future, pbooks will likely be very rare and ebooks will become the norm. Do you think children will cease learning how to read?

I honestly don't think this is as big of a deal that everyone else seems to think it is. Humans are very adaptable, and just because it's not what you know and not how you learned doesn't mean that children can't pick up on it.

I'll quote myself from another thread:
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My great grandma probably couldn't imagine me growing up without a horse and buggy, but I did.

My parents couldn't imagine me growing up with a computer and the internet, but I did. (They can't imagine me not having a house phone either, but I don't.)

I can't imagine my daughter growing up with a mobile phone, but she will.
Technology is in constant flux, but I think kids adapt to it without a problem. That said, of course very young children love to look at colorful pictures (which the 'typical' ereader doesn't yet support) and they love to physically manipulate objects (like turning pages and holding the book).

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Part of assessing the reading readiness of a small child involves observing them interacting with the book as a physical object. I have done reading readiness assessments on preschoolers before, and trust me, they literally start with ‘is the child holding the book right side up?’ and go from there.
I don't think that holding a book upside down is inherently different from holding an ereader upside down. And turning pages forward/backward isn't different from knowing that the page forward button advances the story and the page backward button does not.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by queentess View Post
Eventually, at some point in the future, pbooks will likely be very rare and ebooks will become the norm. Do you think children will cease learning how to read?

I honestly don't think this is as big of a deal that everyone else seems to think it is. Humans are very adaptable, and just because it's not what you know and not how you learned doesn't mean that children can't pick up on it.

I'll quote myself from another thread:

Technology is in constant flux, but I think kids adapt to it without a problem. That said, of course very young children love to look at colorful pictures (which the 'typical' ereader doesn't yet support) and they love to physically manipulate objects (like turning pages and holding the book).

I don't think that holding a book upside down is inherently different from holding an ereader upside down. And turning pages forward/backward isn't different from knowing that the page forward button advances the story and the page backward button does not.
Reading a book, a real book, is way different for a child from reading a book on an ereader. The interaction is totally different. I have a couple of Dr. Seuss books on my iPad for my son, and it is just not the same as a real book. Pushing the screen isn't the same as turning the page. Plus the book can actually read itself to him, which cuts down on the social learning of reading, including the verbal/visual cues children get while learning spoken language, that a computer just can't give.

My 23-month-old is pretty tech savvy—I actually bought him a used iPod touch because I was sick of all the sticky fingerprints on my iPhone, but video stuff is not the same as real life stuff. He loves Tozzle, a puzzle app and is superb at it, able to do even the most complicated puzzles they offer. But he also loves real puzzles and is not as good as them as he is at Tozzle, because more manual dexterity is required.

I don't think electronic books will ever replace children's books. Children's books have more vivid color than even the iPad can deliver. I know the iPad is full color but there is something more eye-grabbing about the same page in a book. Plus they have more control, turning the pages at their speed, playing with the pages, nibbling the pages, skipping a bunch of pages, etc. My son has his favorite parts of many of his books and instead of reading the whole thing he'll flip right to that page. And he loves getting to the end of the book, flipping it closed, announcing "The End!", then putting it back on the bookshelf and picking out another book.

As someone who has read with a toddler both ways, I can say ebooks for young children don't compare in any way to pbooks.

-Marcy
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:04 PM   #5
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With respect and regreting that I am so negative, I would respectfully submit that this idea that children need to learn to read from paper books and not eReaders is all a complete bunch of hooey !

I think ebook readers can be a fabulous tool for older kids, but anyone who thinks they will replace paper for little kids has obviously not spent much time in a primary school!

Based on what evidence ? Just personal opinion ? We have seen how bizarre personal opinion can be in a series of articles here by adult book lovers who appear unable to grasp the difference between medium and content. I fear the same clearly applies here.

Part of assessing the reading readiness of a small child involves observing them interacting with the book as a physical object. I have done reading readiness assessments on preschoolers before, and trust me, they literally start with ‘is the child holding the book right side up?’ and go from there.

Oh please. A child will interact with an eReader or iPad just as effectively as a paper book and the suggestion that a child needs to ‘turn the page themselves’ as part of the learning process beggars belief. This is clearly a mental block on the art of the writer, who is clearly emotionally limited to the concept of paper book, and it has nothing to do with the real act of learning by a child.

I could go on and on, quote by quote but it would be boring. Will children still interact with other media such as block, toys, counting units et al ? of course they will ! but that is not the issue being claimed. The story about puppetry is also a complete red herring and an irrelevance thrown in to confuse and instead it actually illustrates confusion on the part of the writer. Children will always benefit from a multitude of learning experiences in class that go beyond the book, either paper or eBook.

All recent research on learning through use of computers has consistently shown huge accelerated learning by children of all abilities. For anyone who has used ereaders and allowed their children to play with them it is evident that they grasp the principle in nano seconds and without real hard evidence to the contrary, I don’t buy into Joanna’s assertion one bit.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:07 PM   #6
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Marcy, I agree with you to an extent, but the point I wanted to make is, it's not just about the colour. Yes, children can adapt and are comfortable with technology etc. But I don't agree that paper will be 'rare' and 'disappear' and as I said, there are other considerations. For example, consider the way children point at the words when they are beginning readers. On any sort of touchsreen-based reader, that can be very problematic!

I am far from a Luddite. I enjoy technology. I use my iPad when I teach and integrate technology into many of my lessons. But I don't believe it is a be-all, end-all in our lives. Technology will not replace paper books for children any more than the calculator has replaced the little plastic dinosaurs and teddy bears my school has by the bucketful for children learning to count.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:13 PM   #7
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Based on what evidence ?
Based on the evidence of being a trained professional in this area. As I said in the article, I am a licensed teacher (in two countries) with professional experience in teaching in this area. I also have special qualifications in second language learning. Good enough?

It's not so much that the child needs to turn the pages themselves in such a situation, it's that you need to observe how they behave with something like pages, so you can sense if they have grasped certain important concepts that prepare them to read. If they have not grasped these concepts, it is a sign they are not developmentally ready to learn to read independently.

I have allowed children to play with the readers too, and as I said, the older children do enjoy it. But anything with a touchscreen is problematic for early readers. And if you try to teach them strategies to get around that, you're losing your focus and it becomes 'how to teach children to interact with technology' and not 'how to teach children to read.'
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:21 PM   #8
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just another "it's to save the children" BS articles...gimme a break.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:31 PM   #9
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just another "it's to save the children" BS articles...gimme a break.
Glad you have such constructive comments to add. Keep it up, really adds to the community here.

As to the article, I haven't a clue. I certainly respect those who have more education than me in this area [ie, just about everybody ], but we're talking about societal changes, and that is something complex enough that I'm just willing to wait and see what actually happens...
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by queentess View Post
Eventually, at some point in the future, pbooks will likely be very rare and ebooks will become the norm. Do you think children will cease learning how to read?

I honestly don't think this is as big of a deal that everyone else seems to think it is. Humans are very adaptable, and just because it's not what you know and not how you learned doesn't mean that children can't pick up on it.

I'll quote myself from another thread:


Technology is in constant flux, but I think kids adapt to it without a problem. That said, of course very young children love to look at colorful pictures (which the 'typical' ereader doesn't yet support) and they love to physically manipulate objects (like turning pages and holding the book).


I don't think that holding a book upside down is inherently different from holding an ereader upside down. And turning pages forward/backward isn't different from knowing that the page forward button advances the story and the page backward button does not.
I agree!
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:05 PM   #11
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Marcy, I agree with you to an extent, but the point I wanted to make is, it's not just about the colour. Yes, children can adapt and are comfortable with technology etc. But I don't agree that paper will be 'rare' and 'disappear' and as I said, there are other considerations. For example, consider the way children point at the words when they are beginning readers. On any sort of touchsreen-based reader, that can be very problematic!

Hmm. I said there were other considerations as well. Bear in mind I'm speaking about a toddler who knows and recognizes all the letters, but isn't ready yet for actual reading, so a younger age group. I thought I was saying that a pbook is much more of an experience than an ebook in this age group, not that the color is better (although that is a part).

My son never asks to read on my iPad, even though he knows the books are there, but he asks to read books all the time. He likes to play games on the iPad but would much rather read a real book.

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I am far from a Luddite. I enjoy technology. I use my iPad when I teach and integrate technology into many of my lessons. But I don't believe it is a be-all, end-all in our lives. Technology will not replace paper books for children any more than the calculator has replaced the little plastic dinosaurs and teddy bears my school has by the bucketful for children learning to count.
I thought I agreed with you...because I do. Young children are more hands on than a computer will allow. They want to pick up and manipulate things. My son counts crashes—he will crash two cars and say "one crash", then another two with "two crashes", etc. I have some counting apps on the iPod/iPad and they don't interest him as much as counting crashes, or counting the sheep on his Thomas plate or anything else in the non-digital world.

-Marcy
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:34 PM   #12
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I have asked my 16 year old youngest daughter if she would like an ereader a couple of times and she has told me she prefers dead tree books.

"Daddy, I love to read real books"

As my daughter (our youngest) has a language disability, encouraging her to read as much as she does now has been a life long exercise for my wife and I.

So our little gadget girl is resisting the call of the ereader.

"You don't smell the age of the pages reading an ebook in an ereader Dad..."

You know? she is right. Which is why my collection of older books will never be sold or given away. I will of course get ebook versions to read but I will take time out from time to time to "smell the age of the pages".

Last edited by sabredog; 09-08-2010 at 09:48 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-09-2010, 05:48 AM   #13
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I've done work in education - mostly teens, but I have some experience of teaching reading to younger children - and agree entirely with what you posted. I think the same reasons mean that older children who haven't learned to read a first language yet gain almost as much benefit from the word being printed on a physical thing that you can touch.

For younger children, the words seem to have a presence outside the physical book. Your example of using puppets to represent a story, or including a real animal in the story are examples of this, I think. It really helps that the book has a physical presence in the classroom space, and that the children have a visible, touchable representation of the story's beginning, middle and end.

I'm sure that some children would be perfectly happy to learn to read using a computer of some kind, but I think this model would run the risk of leaving behind those who tend towards a more kinaesthetic model of learning.
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Old 09-09-2010, 07:45 AM   #14
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Well, books are much safer if eaten. So that's certainly one advantage for children.

(And dogs)
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:01 AM   #15
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I completely agree with you Joanna. Physical books represent an important bridge between concrete and abstract entities and let children learn how these interact without throwing them in the deep end. Anyone who thinks children can "grasp the principle in nano seconds" and should be required to handle abstract, virtualised concepts from their earliest years is going to cause immense harm.
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