Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reading on Devices- Three Rules

 Monday morning, I was making breakfast when my son asked: "Dad can I read?". "Sure?" I answered quizzically. "No, I mean on the iPad." Here, I have to explain that my kids are not allowed to use digital devices before school. Sarah and I learned this lesson the hard way a long time ago. I agreed that he could read on the iPad as long as he kept to the text. I continued making breakfast just looking at my boys both read on the iPad.

I turned to Oren (11) and asked, "would you rather read on the iPad or paper?"
"iPad," he said without much thought.
"It's an iPad," He said, and the inflection of his voice was implying that I of all people should get it.
"Are there other reasons?"
"Well, I can read like this." He pointed to the fact that his screen was white text on black background. "I like that the iPad remembers where I am." "I also like that I can get books immediately" He was using Overdrive to borrow from the school AND public library to read his favorite books. "I also like the way you swipe to turn pages, and that you can read in the dark." His voice indicated that this conversation was over.

I decided to explore further and turned to Itai (9) who was also reading on his iPad. "What do you like about reading on the iPad?"
"I like that I can get samples of books because they are pretty long. I also like that I do not have to go to the library every time I want a book because I am busy, and I cannot drive there myself." All true. He has been very frustrated since he reads quickly and we seldom get to the library more than once a week. Finally I asked, almost as an afterthought, "If you had the same book in paper or on the iPad, which would you choose?" "Paper," He answered just as quickly as his brother said "iPad." "Why?" "I like the feel of paper and the way the pages turn."

These responses seem to mirror what we see in the publishing and educational fields. For a while, the reigning opinion implied that the (paper) book is going to disappear. Now, we are not so sure as Amazon is opening a brick and mortar store. Kids and adults are reading in both modes. They appreciate the comfort and ease of digital but at the same time appreciate the feel of paper.

That led me to think about reading choices and the three rules for the classroom:

1. Have both modes of reading available. We are not done with school and classroom libraries. Instead, we need to make sure we have both formats available.

2. Capitalize on the strength of each mode. Digital provides access to large selections with no wait time. Paper frees us from the need to have power and wi-fi. The joy of walking through a full library or a bookstore are still worth experiencing.

3. Make sure all students are exposed to both modes of reading and discuss the advantages of each mode.

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