Is the Book Dead? (page 2)

Is the Book Dead?

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Updated on Jun 25, 2013

This form is especially important for kids with reading difficulties, according to James Wendorf, Executive Director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). He says it individualizes the reading experiencing, allowing the user “to manipulate the learning environment so that they can be actively engaged in the written words.” Wendorf says far from being a crutch to lean on, these tools offer a strategy to be able to read—leveling the playing field for kids with disabilities. “These electronic tools are a blessing: they help develop fluency, increase access and open up more of the world to these kids,” he says.

So, should parents treat books like fax machines, cassette tapes, and other irrelevant technology? Not quite. “We would never want to see a dead book,” Wendorf says. “Books are very much alive. The experience of reading paper does reinforce what happens online and vice-versa.”

Wilhelm says parents and teachers shouldn’t see reading as a choice between paper and electronic. “We need both. We need to embrace the new technologies, and use it as a bridge to more traditional kinds of literacies,” he says.

That means parents should start kids out on traditional books, Wilhelm says, especially picture books which provide the multimodality proven so important to literacy. Once the book is a recognizable format, parents can feel more comfortable allowing their children to read electronically. “The physical artifact of the book is very important for beginning literacy. We proceed from the concrete to the abstract,” Wilhelm says. The name of the game, he says, is availability: make all methods of reading available to your kids, and model your own use of them. “Give them a wide variety of experiences and let them navigate their own story at their own pace,” he says.

It seems the general consensus among experts is that electronic reading is a good thing, because it’s encouraging kids to read more. Carol Rasco, the President and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental, says her organization “encourages children to read and discover the joy of reading, regardless of medium.”

So, don’t panic if your kids aren’t always reading the traditional way—just keep clearing a path to that bookshelf.

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