Did you all see this: http://tinyurl.com/383msu3 Scholastic surveyed 2000 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 about reading ebooks, and found out two key things (only one of which is highlighted in the article): kids are eager to read book on digital devices, and for two thirds of those surveyed, doing so did not make them any less interested in print books. The survey was seen as encouraging in that it suggests books can easily enter the digital jet stream — the flow of stuff kids are eager to use, share, and do on their digital devices. But there was also a level of caution — fear of kids getting too entranced with the digitisphere and some evidence that for kids 9-11, limits to their distraction time and a home that encourages reading matter.
As it happens, I am on a SLJ Virtual Summit panel today in which we will be talking about ebooks. The survey indicates that everything is moving quickly — as fast as families get digital devices and let kids use them, kids are taking to them, feeling comfortable with them, and settling in to read. So the ereading child is a given. Now of course there is the matter of access — some schools provide ipods to kids, some parents have the income to get them, some kids-cheap-partial version of a digital reader is, or surely soon will be, at Target and Toys r Us. But as I said up top, the survey also shows an overlap between print and digital, not a competition or replacement. This is especially important for libraries. For, as quickly as elibraries are made available and as robust as they may be, what libraries have now are acres of printed books. So what we need to think about, and study, and learn about, is this area of overlap. What does print do well, what does digital do well, how do we help kids navigate from one format to another. This is my passion — we don’t live in magic land, the world does not change in an eye blink. We live in libraries that have books. So now we have to experiment with mixing and matching, we have to test how to use one kind of book with another. We have to explore.
If any of you have stories to tell about kids using ebooks and print books — how the kids make their way from one to another, or select between them, or the genres that work well in one format or another — please tell. We can start figuring this out by learning from each other.