Tag Archives: Children’s books

Book vs. Nook–Pros and Cons of the Digital Age

I have always been and will stubbornly remain an ardent lover of books. To me there is nothing quite like holding a weighty novel in your hands, feeling the texture of the pages as you turn them, nostrils filling with a whiff of that distinctive smell of paper and ink, and pulse quickening in anticipation as you delve into the exquisitely beguiling world of literature.

There is a beautiful artistry to creating printed books, and one that I desperately hope will not be forgotten or lost. Though, I am fully aware of all the wonderful advantages of technological advances, I cannot help but have what seems to be becoming a nostalgic longing for an age when people carried leather satchels laden down with books from their local library.

I recently came across an article from The Telegraph describing a study by The National Literacy Trust, a U.K. charity that campaigns to improve children’s literacy rates in the United Kingdom. The study sheds light on the impact that e-readers are having on children’s literacy. The study strikingly “found those who read only electronic books daily are significantly less likely to be strong readers than those who read daily in print, and are much less likely to enjoy reading.” There is perhaps a certain detachment to the content they are reading on their computer, tablet, or e-reader screens that might not occur were they reading a printed book, magazine, or newspaper. I believe that there is something to be said for actually holding a physical book in your hands. As a reader, reading in print makes me feel much more connected to the content that I am reading and much more pulled into the story, whether it be the plot of a narrative or the details of a news story.

However, there is much praise due to the positive impact that computers and e-readers have had on the number of children and young people now reading books and newspapers. In the Information Age of today, when content is being voraciously written and consumed in the digital sphere, tablets and e-readers act as an excellent platform to reach the target audiences of children and young adults.

Though I personally prefer the “antiquated” notion of picking up a book, I am open to and excited about the opportunities that will come from the digital evolution of publishing. My hopes for the future of publishing is that there can be a harmonious balance between printed books and their digital counterparts. I realize that to be a part of this industry I must embrace the digital world and all the advantages that come with it, but it is my earnest desire that printed books remain a very rich and vibrant part of our present and future and never fade into glorious vestiges of the past.

See the full article details on the The Telegraph.

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Building a Generation of Book Lovers

I have been thinking a lot about children’s literature lately. As I prepare to begin my journey into a career in publishing I have been contemplating the critical role that children play in the future of publishing.

Playstations. Xboxes. Game Cubes. Tablets. Smart Phones. With the abundance of digital game centers kids are becoming increasingly less apt to choose a book over a game. The simple pleasure of discovering the twists and turns of the plot, befriending the characters, and getting lost in a new and exciting world seems to be foreign to many children.

A recent study by commissioned by the National Reading Campaign in Canada, authored by Sharon Murphy, indicated that choice was a “key factor in instilling a love of reading.” The report’s primary aim was to uncover the factors that promote a nation of people who love to read as opposed to simply a literate nation.

The research touched on numerous telling aspects about children’s engagement in reading and the effect of gender, age, choice of content, and reading environment on the amount of pleasure derived from reading. The most compelling finding was that even those children who identified themselves as frequent readers would not read texts other than those that were assigned to them. This indicates that the way in which reading is being taught in schools is actually stifling children’s enjoyment of reading.

If given the choice of the types of book they would like to read, children will be much more receptive to reading as an act of pleasure as opposed to a mandatory chore. Children in the study also positively responded to a change in environment. When taken out of the formal setting of the classroom and put into a more “comfy” setting the children became much more social, comfortable, and confident in themselves and in the opinions about what they had read.

I was read to as a child and know the importance that foundation in reading has played in my life as both an avid reader and writer. Fostering the love of books in children is something that I believe is critical, especially now that our world is becoming so increasingly focused on the digital sphere. In order to get children to become active and engaged readers, we must carefully nurture the love of reading from an early age. I believe that the future of publishing is strongly dependent upon instilling our children with a love of reading that will carry through into adulthood. Empower your children–give them the wonderful gift of the joy of reading.

Check out the full details of the study on Publishers Weekly.

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Difficult Lessons Couched in Creative Storylines

In a world filled with so many complex issues and dangers, writers seeking to inform children in a way that is non-threatening, engaging, and relatable have an extremely delicate task. At a recent PEN Panel called “Children’s Literature: Braving Our Endangered World,” held on May 4th, panelists discussed their tactics for presenting science and ecology-themed books to children in a way that would resonate with them.

The panelists’ books covered topics such as ethnic conflicts, endangered species, and trash dumping in our oceans. Each of the panelists have found a way to expand their expertise in science through the lens of literature. By creating human stories to surround scientific issues, they have been able to reach a new audience and convey significant messages about serious scientific issues.

Though these are weighty subjects to address in children’s books, they are vital to instill them with a sense of what is going on in the world around them. Children are naturally eager to learn and explore and tapping into their innate sense of discovery is an excellent way to impart important messages that will shape their worldview.

The key according to Padma Venkatraman, author of Island’s End, is “well-rounded passionate characters that leave readers with questions.” Too often the moral or social message of a children’s story can be too thinly veiled, which quickly loses a child’s attention as it then becomes more of a boring lesson and less of a captivating story. Fostering that wondrous sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness and getting children engaged with key topics surrounding environmental issues and cultural differences is the best way to enable them to become conscientious and well-rounded adults.

Check out the full article on Publishers Weekly.

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