Kids Say They Want Digital Books, Also Candy, Firetrucks

Children would read more—if only they had those nifty gadgets

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A new study by Scholastic, a children's book publisher, shows that kids would read more books if they had Kindles or iPads. That, at least, is how the study is being reported. Of course, what the study actually says is that children say they would read more in Kindle or other e-reader form. It is entirely possible, as more than a few folks have pointed out, that kids just dig gadgets. Taking the study at face value, though, there's still a lot of food for thought.

  • Kids Like Digital and Print The New York Times' Julie Bosman pulls out this interesting tidbit from the study: "Many children want to read books on digital devices and would read for fun more frequently if they could obtain e-books. But even if they had that access, two-thirds of them would not want to give up their traditional print books."
  • Do We Really Need More Technology Thrown at Kids? As Sarah Weinman observes at Daily Finance, "many parents" in the survey also "expressed concern that time spent with digital devices and the Internet was eroding their children's ability to spend dedicated time with a book."
  • Define Reading PC Mag's Leslie Horn notes that "a quarter of the kids surveyed ... considered texting back and forth with friends reading, while 28 percent of kids said the same about going through Facebook posts. Parents did not agree," she continues, dryly. She also picks out another lesson from the study, which said "limiting the use of technology worked for some kids" to encourage reading (presumably the technology here is TV, cell phones, computers, and the like), "but having interesting books and suggesting texts in the home seemed to be one of the most effective methods."
  • A Couple Ways to Look at This "The definition of 'reading' is going to evolve," comments Kit Eaton at Ithinqware. "It's just a question of whether it's desirable or happening too fast." Eaton pulls in some outside information showing that it is possible people would read more, while keeping old print books on hand, with e-book proliferation:
The Scholastic survey backs up data from a recent Harris poll that investigated e-book use and reading habits among adults, and revealed that 20% of survey respondees without e-readers said they'd not purchased a physical book in the previous year, compared to just 8% of e-reader owners. It also showed that over 50% of e-reader owners read more after buying one than they did before. According to Harris' data, then, e-reading isn't actually damaging the book business too much, nor is it decreasing the affinity for reading books in the general population--quite the opposite.
  • Digital Children's Books Are Taking 'the App Route,' reports The Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Trachtenberg, in a development unlikely to win reading purists over to the case for child iPads. "Picture this: A child cozies up for a bedtime story, but with an electronic book that allows her to, say, tickle a character, record her own voice reading or complete a maze."
  • Can E-Books Replace Real Children's Books? Children's book author Dave Horowitz, commenting on The New York Times story, says "of course kids are drawn to flashy new toys like e-readers," but that e-readers are tools, and "since kids are still learning to read, one wonders if they are really the best tool for the job." For example, he wonders: "Is the kindergarten teacher of the future going to hold up a Kindle(tm) in front of a room full of squirming children?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.