Electronic reading has come of age for all ages. But, in truth, there is nothing like holding a good book in your hands, the tactile experience of turning the pages; smelling the ink and the weight of the book; the obvious shift of the heavy side switching from right–to–left as you move through the chapters and get to the center. And once you have reached that mid-point of your book, either being excited or slightly disappointed that you are already half-way through your new read.
It works the same for kids. The first little chunky books they often have in their home libraries with the thick cardboard-like pages they can touch and hold in their tiny hands as they view the images and words again, again and again are all part of their initial experience of reading; and the truth is, they love it!
Certainly there were those skeptics when technology first took center stage who claimed one day all the books — they would just be gone. Poof! They would simply disappear consumed into the abyss of cyberspace, never to be seen, held or touched again by children or adults. Well as with most pendulum swinging predictions, that just did not happen. Technology, online reading, e-books, kindles and books themselves have found their balance, a way to complement each other and live together, each having their own defined place in the cosmos.
So how do you find that balance – that integrated experience for your kids – of online book reading and the in-hand page turner? The answer is really simple: Embrace them both equally; let them experience it all. Here are five tips on how that might be accomplished.
- Read to them equally from kindles, iPads and books
- Check out web and Instagram platforms for sites like – Save With Stories – to have them experience others reading favorite stories to them online
- Take them to the library to see the seemingly endless stacks of books that are available to them to check out and take home
- At the earliest opportunity make your child a card carrying library member
- Take your child to brick and mortar book stores like Barnes and Noble, Book People and Half Priced Books to see how books and technology are integrated together in an enormous space along with, games, imaginative opportunities and of course afternoon cookies and treats.
As you step into and explore all of the reading opportunities available to your children, keep in mind, technology is most kids “first language” these days. So as a parent, it at least needs to be your “second” language. That means from the start it is child critical to stay ahead of the technology curve yourself as you introduce your children to online books and provide them every opportunity to be totally technologically literate.
And on the flipside, even with technology perpetually at their fingertips, take every opportunity to add to your child’s at-home library and intentionally place actual books in their hands; each new read will bring smiles to their faces and offer magical moments for their minds.
There is no doubt, as they grow into avid readers, a combination of online reading and hand-held book experiences for your child are essential. With that in mind, authors Carl Sagan and Stephen Fry offer these perspectives:
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny, dark squiggles…But one glance…and you are inside the mind of another person…A book is proof humans are capable of magic.”
– Carl Sagan
“One technology doesn’t replace another; it complements. Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”
– Stephen Fry