|Article first published as Should Children Use an E-Reader? on Technorati.|
Last week I went to Barnes and Noble. As I approached the back of the store, I noticed a big display promoting The Nook for children. For some reason, this didn’t sit well with me. It’s not that I have anything against electronic readers. I bought one for my husband on his birthday. He often travels for work, and in the past has been at the mercy of the airport to find something to read. With the Kindle, he can download books to read for long plane rides. He can pack and carry it conveniently. The difference is he is an adult. For children, I believe actually holding a book with pages and pictures holds much more value.
When my older daughter was a baby, we had a number of board books in the house. She would pick them up, look at the pictures, put them in her mouth, and asked to hear the same stories over and over. We started going to the library when she was able to walk. This opened up a whole new world of children’s authors. Some became such favorites we read everything they wrote. This would not have happened without the opportunity to browse the stacks.
My younger daughter has been going to the library from birth. She too enjoyed the large picture books and had her favorites as well. The library also had story hours which added to their enjoyment. Thankfully both my girls are good readers, but I have to believe that this was caused by the love of those picture books. Now at ages 9 and 7, the library is one of their favorite places.
Books don’t have to be expensive. You can find them at library book fairs, thrift shops, tag sales, etc. It is still special when child gets a new book. It is satisfying to see them curled up on the couch reading. It is something to hear them tell you what is happening in the latest chapter book they are enjoying. It is such an important skill and one that needs to be fostered.
I know kids love electronics. In some cases an e-reader might encourage them to read more. I am all for finding new ways to help children learn. I just wonder why everything has to look like a game or be interactive. I don’t think an electronic device will ever replace books for children, and I don’t think they should.