I love the Dinosaur Vs. books. Bob Shea’s clever stories and illustrations even make Mo Willems green. There’s just something satisfying about turning the pages with a small child and listening to them giggle as Dinosaur tries to take down bedtime – or the potty or …
I tried reading picture books on an e-reader (color Nook, if you must know) and while it worked okay for my research on picture books, I found it less enjoyable than reading the hard copy books. Not to mention that, at the time, e-versions of new picture books were harder to come by.
So a recent article in the New York Times about reading picture books to small children using an e-reader definitely caught my eye. The article debates whether e-reading picture books counts as “story time” or “screen time.” The reporter points out that research doesn’t know yet – using e-readers to read to pre-literate children is still pretty new, though parents, pediatricians, teachers, and researchers would all love to know.
Several points make the case that using an e-reader in this way leans toward screen time rather than story time, especially with regard to comprehension and language acquisition. However, is e-reading really worse than say, the Baby Einstein videos that were all the rage a decade ago? (And were proven to be useless as anything other than electronic babysitting.)
My personal feeling is that there’s room for both types of reading – even with the very young. Reading a hardcopy picture book together is vital for language and reading development with pre-literate children. But if the child is going to be on the screen anyway? I’d much rather they be experiencing the richness of Mo Willem’s “Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App!” or one of the many interactive picture books now available than simply playing the latest fad game.(Clash of Clans, anyone? And admit it, tablets and smartphones are INCREDIBLE devices to amuse kids while waiting in line. No hauling around a stack of board books.)
So, I’m on the fence myself. As long as e-reading doesn’t take the place of reading aloud with a lovely hardcopy book on your lap, I don’t see any harm. And a quote at the very end of the article puts it best: Small children LOVE going to the library and picking out their own books. Even more than playing with Mommy’s or Daddy’s iPad.
BONUS goodie: Call Me Ishmael
Has a book changed your life? (Of course.) Do you want to share that experience with everyone? (Maybe.) Well, a new hotline can help you do that. Call Me Ishmael wants you to call them at 774-325-0503 and leave them a voicemail “about a book you love and a story you’ve lived.” Ishmael then transcribes and shares at least one story every day during the week. Pretty cool!