Something happened this week that could indicate a fundamental shift in what it means to “read”. Amazon announced that the sale of e-books has now surpassed the sale of paper books. For every 100 paper books sold, Amazon sells 105 e-books. After hearing this on the news, the impact that e-books might have on young children started to slowly sink in for me.
For the past five years, I’ve been working with teachers and coaches to implement the kinds of classroom literacy practices that most effectively prepare children for success at reading. We’ve worked to help children learn “book knowledge” skills, like how to hold a book, turn the pages, start from the front of the book and continue toward the back. While these are and will always be important emergent reading skills, I wonder if we are missing the opportunity to build children’s skills with other types of books (like e-books)?
Adults aren't the only ones using e-books either, elementary-aged children are enjoying them too (as highlighted in a recent New York Times article). When I talk about using technology to support reading with other educators, I sometimes sense a reluctance to explore its potential. There is a concern that if we aren’t exposing children to REAL books and REAL objects that they are somehow missing out on the REAL world of learning. Considering this news about the prevalence of e-books, I would ask all of us to consider what the REAL world is for children and how we are preparing them for the world if we are not introducing them to a variety of reading methods.
What are your thoughts? What do you think would be important to consider when introducing this type of technology into an early childhood classroom?