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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters


Read, Reader, Reading

My trusty copy of eclassroom news arrived, with this interesting bit A study at Ball State showed that third and fourth graders who were not drawn to reading books were more receptive to ereaders. The fact that they were reading on a device similar to the PDAs they use for gaming, or phoning, appealed to them. The ereaders did not help students who had difficulty reading per se, but did serve to entice those who could read, but were not motivated to do so. As the researchers noticed, a big part of the appeal of ereaders is their novelty. So it is not clear whether they would be as entrancing to students who used them in class every day. But there is something interesting in this, especially as some of the kids also asked if the ereaders could work as calculators, to help with math homework.

An ereader that does more than offer pure text is moving towards becoming something else. It is not a book delivered electronically, it is a different beast. Just as a picture book online, I have long believed, is less than a printed book, unless it is a step towards animation. Moving text or image from one "platform" to another offers novelty. Exploring what text and image become in a digital environment is really interesting. I do not know, and I don’t think anyone knows yet, what the combination of text-as-in-books, interactive capacity, web-link, database of primary source could or should be in nonfiction for younger readers. In fact, I hope that any of you who work with kids in libraries and see them using books, computers, ereaders, can try out combinations, and report back to us.

The Ball State test shows us the coolness factor in getting text in digital forms. Now it is up to us to take the interest that generates and create new forms of nonfiction. What should that be?