Children Prefer to Read E-Books

By Jared Keller

With the introduction of the Kindle and iPad in the past few years, journalists and academics have found themselves fretting over how the tablet revolution may shape the future of the book. For their kids, however, reading just took on an whole new appeal. 


A new study released by Scholastic, in which the publisher surveyed 2,000 children from ages 6 to 17, indicated that children would read more frequently if they could obtain e-books on digital devices. The New York Times' Julie Bosman reports that parents and academics are looking to encourage increased reading by leveraging the fascination with technology -- usually centered on video games, Facebook, and text messages -- that's becoming characteristic of the next generation of digital natives.

About 25 percent of the children surveyed said they had already read a book on a digital device, including computers and e-readers. Fifty-seven percent between ages 9 and 17 said they were interested in doing so.

Only 6 percent of parents surveyed owned an e-reader, but 16 percent said they planned to buy one in the next year. Eighty-three percent of those parents said they would allow or encourage their children to use the e-readers.

Francie Alexander, the chief academic officer at Scholastic, called the report "a call to action."

"I didn't realize how quickly kids had embraced this technology," Ms. Alexander said, referring to computers and e-readers or other portable devices that can download books. "Clearly they see them as tools for reading -- not just gaming, not just texting. They see them as an opportunity to read."

Milton Chen, a senior fellow at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, said the report made the case that children want to read on new digital platforms.

"The very same device that is used for socializing and texting and staying in touch with their friends can also be turned for another purpose," Mr. Chen said. "That's the hope."

Although the instinctual attraction of children to shiny new gadgets may seem like a boon for educators, Bosman reports that many parents remain concerned about the impact of technology on their children's attention span and focus. 

Read the full story at The New York Times.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/09/children-prefer-to-read-e-books/63758/