Sunday, August 8, 2010

Will e-books (*gulp*) ever replace traditional books for children?

Someone recently posed the following question on LinkedIn: Will children's books be replaced by e-books in the future?

So this is not really a "blog post" but it is my response to the question:

Reading and experience with books should start in infancy and you can't give your one-year old an i-pad! Reading e-books is a fun activity to do with your child - especially preschoolers - but children need books that they can go and choose independently. Personally, I'd be less worried about a 2 year old with a book that she might drop or tear rather than an expensive piece of electronic equipment. I'm not anti-e book ... I think literacy opportunities should be everywhere! But I don't foresee e-books replacing traditional books. Besides, when your are cuddling at night in bed or on the sofa with your little one, there's something more cozy about a book that an e-book can't achieve.

In the same way that computers haven't replaced teachers, I don't think e-books will replace traditional books. I think they will enhance the literacy experience for many children. I used to teach kindergarten and my classroom would have been a different place if I didn't have books to share! In block area we would have books about architecture and construction. In the science area we would have books about weather. There's no way I could achieve that level of literacy with an e-book that would only be available in the computer area.

On a side note, I think having electronic text books for high school students is great. I weighed less that 100 lbs in high school and I remember having backaches sometimes after dragging around a backpack full of huge textbooks. Many online textbooks also have additional information, updated material, and online companions. But for the little ones...I prefer traditional books without a doubt.

So I'm anxious to hear what you think? E-books or traditional books for children?????


  1. I have yet to be converted to an e-reader for my own reading although I know that it probably won't be that much longer as it seems the world is pushing in that direction.

    As for the young children, I definitely don't see e-books replacing the traditional ones anytime soon. I agree with all of your reasons!

    My husband recently downloaded The Cat in the Hat on his iPod for my 2 year old daughter. It displayed the words and illustrations on screen as a narrator read the words out loud. After listening to it a couple of times, I read the actual book version to her and she had already memorized a little bit of it and "read" along with me (she often does that with books that we read alot together as well). So I think that e-books could help in the classroom for things such as fluency the same way audiorecordings have been used for years. The only thing that concerns me is that there is a lot of movement on the screen in the illustrations (such as raindrops on "that cold wet day"). I wonder if for some kids that really might be a distraction? Or for kids who don't already love reading (like my daughter) that it might just further distance them from books that "don't do anything" and they actually have to use their imagination?

    August 8, 2010 9:25 AM

  2. Hi April! You bring up a great point about kids that might be easily distracted by some of the animation that some e-books have. I certainly agree that e-books might have their place in the educational world...but I just don't see how e-books can ever replace traditional books for the little ones!!

  3. I wonder about this all of the time. I've yet to see a picture book on an e-reader with illustrations as delightful as those in a book. I can't imagine holding my e-reader up for the class to view the pictures. Could a toddler chew on an e-reader?

    Yet, it does seem possible for the quality of digital images to make that possible. Books could also (and I think already are in some instances) be more interactive. April's point about fluency through repeated readings is an important one. There is also the immediate feedback of the narrators voice with the words. Readers could find out about unfamiliar vocabulary through examples and information linked to the book (and just think of the number of books children could take in the car with them). I'm sure the list of possibilities goes on and on.

    I can't imagine, however, the experience of a picture book being replaced by an e-reader. I have a hard time imagining life would ever work without picture books we can hold in our hands, but I suppose time will tell.

  4. PBS Parents poste this post on thier Face Book Page. Check it out to read even more comments:

    @Cathy - I couldn't agree more. I see the value of e-books but I can't imagine them replacing traditional books for young children. A toddler chewing on an e-book would be pretty painful :) and costly!

  5. Hi, all!
    I agree with Cathy that picture books must keep the integrity of the original illustrations. Currently, no one except Ripple Reader ( is doing this. That is why Ripple Reader is a computer eBook Reader - not a hand held eBook reader. We know how important the pictures are to the story! They shouldn't be hacked up. Ripple's eBooks are full screen and in original format.

    I also agree with April -- the Dr. Seuss kind of eBooks are more games than books and serve a different purpose, entertainment not learning.

    Hopefully, eBooks will give young readers another way to enjoy a good book!


  6. This is a great topic! Thanks for the valuable discussion.

  7. Hi! Thanks for following me on Twitter!

    This is something I have been thinking about! I LOVE books, and I can't stand the thought of all books becoming electronic! There is just something about having a book you can open and hold (and my little ones love to carry piles of them around)!

  8. It is true that in these days Ebook take place of a traditional book. It is most popular in people's routine life and people like to use it every time. It is good for kids to improve their activity.




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