• Myrna Driedger

Reading: electronic vs. print

Article published in The Metro

February was “I Love to Read” month and I was delighted to visit many schools in Charleswood as a Guest Reader. This is one of my favourite activities. It is remarkable to hear the questions that students ask about my job or comments they make about the story that I read. It demonstrates a level of understanding beyond their years.

This year I couldn’t help but wonder if print books were losing their popularity since the advent of E-books. What do most parents and children prefer? Personally, I must admit that I prefer to read a book in print. I love the feel and smell of the book, turning the pages, and just the whole experience.

In the past few years, many people thought that the print version of books was doomed. But there are many who now say that the popularity of e-books was a fad and many have switched back to print. One of the main reasons for this is the effect that the light, especially from a tablet or phone, has by interrupting our body’s production of melatonin, which causes problems sleeping. Figures from The Association of American Publishers found that sales of e-books fell 14% in 2015 compared to 2014.

According to Literacy advocate and teacher Donna Rasmussen, nearly two thirds of children will always want to read print books. She thinks that this is because we are tactile creatures.

We will judge books by their covers and that’s okay. Some of the reasons given for this are:

  • A tactile sense of progression – you consciously or unconsciously track your progress through the books by feeling how many pages are left.

  • Researchers found that children who read enhanced e-books recalled significantly fewer narrative details than children who read the print version.

  • The interactive features in e-books might be distracting to some children.

  • If you are going to use e-books to read to children there are some tips to make the experience more worthwhile:

  • Enjoy the book in the “read only” function first and disable or ignore any interactive features.

  • Talk about the story – have the discussions about the characters and events in the story.

So, what does this mean for the future of books? As in all businesses, I’m sure the producers of e-books will find ways to improve the reading experience for everyone. But the most important thing to remember is that all reading is enjoyable and good for your child; spending time sharing the book with your child and having conversations about the story is beneficial to your child. It will promote your child’s language and literacy skills no matter which type of book you use.

February and “I Love to Read” month are now over, but I encourage you to carry on for the rest of the year and wish you all “happy reading”.

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