Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Children's reading: Real Books versus the iPad and Kindle

Apple's much-anticipated iPad is expected in the UK at the end of April. But I'm not expecting its e-book features to take off in my family.

From the Apple demo there's no denying it looks like a great new way to read a wide variety of previously printed media, but we aren't ready to hang up our dusty hardcopies quite yet.

Having educated them in the ways of Star Trek (for my sins), I'm sure they will be intrigued about the device when they see it, and are going to want a PADD of their own. But this thought raises mixed emotions for me.

I've had a love of physical books from my own childhood that's never died. There's nothing that can replicate the same smell and feel of turning pages or seeing the hand-drafted illustrations of the old fairytale storybooks.

Maybe it's genetic, but having these classic old books around has also piqued the interest of my own kids. They are always keen to pull a book from the shelf and flick through the pages.

The process of sitting down and reading together, turning the pages and looking at the pictures has a quality that the e-book readers simply can't match.

No matter how impressive the Apple iPad is, it can't take the place of that fifty-year-old tome of Grimm's Fairy Tales with its tatty cover, thick cracking pages and variety of ill advised scribbles.

I recently borrowed an Amazon Kindle from a friend to see how we got on reading together electronically.

My kids weren't having any of it. Sure, the Kindle looked cool with its creamy-white shell and excellent text-reproduction, but it didn't deliver the same experience. It's difficult to explain without coming across as an elitist bibliophile but I still find the experience of reading electronic media a little soulless.

There are, of course, plenty of great reasons to own an iPad. I'm looking forward to trying it out properly when the family goes on holiday in the summer -- carrying a ton of books on a vacation doesn't seem like a great idea compared to just having a Kindle or iPad.

But as a home device I'm pretty happy that my kids prefer the old and fusty way to read books and hope that technology, just this once, doesn't supplant the traditional way of being a parent.

1 comment:

  1. Ken, have you evaluated e-readers for dyslexics? Found your site by searching for "Kindle Dyslexia", and see why Google thought this post was hit (side bar has many links other posts).

    Strangely, I can't find a review of the Kindle from the perspective of dyslexics. Now with the Kindle Fire, B&N Nook Tablet and Apple iPad, I'd think the opportunity to bring dyslexics and books closer together would be even greater.

    Perhaps you can be the first to conduct the review.