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Hard Copy Picture Books or Digital E-Books? That Is the Question.

by Miriam Downey 27. September 2012 07:58

The library of FWU is a repository of classic books that can be found online or in e-book format. Many children's picture books, however, are not available online either free or for purchase. As a librarian and a grandmother, I highly recommend that picture books be read to and with your children in hard copy format rather than as an e-book.

First, on an e-book, only one page can be shown at a time. In many picture books, the pictures are spread across both pages. Some of the context will be missing if the child can't see both pages, and in picture books, much of the context comes from the pictures. Then, there is the issue of how to hold the device so that both parent and child can see the entire page. I would also argue that it might be harder to cuddle together with a device rather than a hard-copy book.

My feeling is that sitting on the couch reading a book is one of the most comforting and enlightening things a parent can do with a child. My daughter is currently reading A Child's Garden of Verse by Robert Lewis Stevenson to her toddler daughter every evening before bed. The interesting thing to me is that there are no pictures--it is a very old edition of the book. But every evening as they sit in the rocking chair before bed, Adela is lulled by the words, the rhyme, and the cadence of the words in the poetry.

 

Recent research would back up my feelings about picture book reading. "Print books are preferred over e-books by parents as well as children when they read together, according to a new study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop that found that 89.9% of iPad owners read 'mostly print books and some e-books' with their children, 7.5% read both formats equally with their children, and 2.7% read 'mostly or exclusively' e-books." These statistics appeared in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. More significantly, fewer than 10% of children liked to read e-books better. E-books may be valuable when a child wants to hear or read a story and a parent is not available to share the time with the child--like when a child is in the car or a parent is cooking supper. The study suggested that e-books may serve best as supplements to a child's literary development.

I would be remiss as a librarian if I did not suggest that your local library may be the best source of picture books for your child. At the library, your children can choose whatever books they want to support whatever interest they are currently exploring. The library will have books for the whole family, and probably nothing encourages reading for a child more than seeing a parent reading.

Some of the best picture book authors have not allowed their books to be remade in e-book format. Although Green Eggs and Ham, the classic children's book by Dr. Seuss is available on compact disk, it has not been released as an e-book, and neither have Where the Wild Things Are or Polar Express. These books have to be read in hard copy, and you certainly wouldn't want your child to miss those classics.

Reading together is one of life's great pleasures and encourages lifelong literary skills. Read a picture book with your child today!

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A New School Year: A New Look at the Library

by Miriam Downey 13. September 2012 07:11

When I began this blog a year ago, I introduced the library at Free World U with some comments about the kinds of books in our virtual library and where they could be found. I thought it might be helpful at the beginning of another school year to remind us all about where the suggested library books are on the FWU website.

Over the past year, I have added books in two kinds to the library--books that can be found on the Internet and books that can be purchased or found at your local library. The two categories are Online Books and Other Great Books. The books that will be found online are primarily the classics. Copyrights generally last for 75 years. That means that if your eight grader needs to read Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief, which was published in 2006, he/she is most likely not going to find it on the Internet. If it can be found, it is probably a pilfered or pirated copy of the book, and it will be taken down from the Internet as soon as it is discovered by the author or publisher. You can buy the paperback at the bookstore, purchase the online version, or visit your local library to check it out.

 

On the other hand, if your child needs to read Aesop's Fables or Anne of Green Gables, both of these books are available online since the copyrights have expired, and the books are in the public domain. Those classic books can be read online from Project Gutenberg or downloaded free to your computer, Nook, Kindle, or other device. You can find more information about downloading free books on my blog posting from last February, which can be found here.

The other part of the library website includes Research Resources, a listing of websites that can help students with research questions and includes links to the websites. Like the library books, this resource is fluid, and websites are added and subtracted as necessary.

I welcome your comments and your questions. As the librarian, I am here to help with book questions, comments about blog postings, and references for research. I have had 30 years of experience in K-12 libraries, and I love to be of help to the students and parents of Free World U.

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