I have a family member, that will remain nameless, who can’t even fathom reading anything other than a REAL book. She doesn’t understand why anyone would want to have a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or any eReader for that matter. Reading to her isn’t just about words, its about words on a piece of paper held in her hands. It’s about feeling the texture of the paper, smelling the pages as she turn each one of them, sinking into a chair and losing herself in the story, and it’s about passing on that love to others (as she did with me). She is shocked, and a little annoyed, that I might “let” her Grandson read a book on our iPad. She asked me how he will learn to love a book if he can’t hold it in his hands and turn the pages back and forth.
Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised when I got a frantic text from her the other day letting me know that Borders, the second largest book store to Barnes & Noble, is closing their doors for good. It made me think of You’ve Got Mail, the movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, where the big book store puts the Mom & Pop store out of business. But I wonder….is this such a bad thing??? Are ereaders going to be the end of the world…Judgement Day, Armageddon, 2012, The Apocalypse?
Now I realize, all book stores are not closing, just like not all magazines or newspapers have shut down, but there is something in the air….a shift….a transfer of practice…a growing change in reading habits. A study that was done in September of 2010 found that only about 8% of Americans read on ereaders. But of that 1-in-10, 21% say that they now read more than they did before.
What this means to me is that a small portion of readers have changed reading habits and maybe it means that those that once didn’t read have now found a new way of reading that works for them. I don’t really care either way. What I care about is that people are reading. Whether they grab a book or their iPad, they have found the love of reading and that is what we, as teachers, try to instill in kids.
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, realized that readers want more and that the use of interactive environments and social networking is very popular. In June, Rowling announced a new online environment where the stories and characters of Hogwarts will continue to develop in the years ahead. Readers around the world were so excited that her announcement video has over 1.6 million views on YouTube. Learn more about Pottermore, and possibly even be a beta tester for the site, by visiting the website July 31st. Maybe this is an example of another way to hook reluctant readers and encourage kids (and adults) to read.
I believe that reading is: fundamental, power, fun, important, essential, etc. Whether you choose to read a book or an ebook it’s really win/win. So what might this change in practice mean for schools, teachers, students, testing, bookbags, trees, etc?
Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.