Ebooks vs. Paper Books: Children's Books

Ebooks vs. Paper Books: Children's Books

Posted 7.27.2012 in Articles by Jess

To some of us, it's still shocking to see that 7-year-old walking around texting on their smartphone while listening to their brand new iTouch. It's no surprise that there are a number of things this iPod Generation won't find any need for that was so beloved to our own youth. Remember Saturday morning cartoons? They won't. The growing obsession with the Internet has even lowered the percentage of hours kids watch on a real television because they can watch “tv” shows online. They won't know desktop computers, landline phones, email, or even CDs. This growing dependency on technology has left parents with a dilemma between ebooks vs. paper books in regards to children's books. Both have a number of advantages, but they also have their disadvantages. You want your child to be up to date with all the new technology, but there's just a certain sense of tradition that's lost when you read your kids Dr. Seuss off of an ereader rather than a traditional paper book.

 

The most promising aspect of an ebook is convenience. Not necessarily convenience for your kid but more so for you as a parent. They can be taken anywhere – on road trips, a trip to the grocery store, vacations, pretty much anywhere you can think of. It's simple to hand your child an ebook and keep him or her entertained for hours. They have color and pictures just like normal paper books, they can be brightened so your kid can enjoy it at night, and downloading their favorite book only takes a few minutes. Teaching your kid to read from an ebook is also helping them develop their technological skills, something that their generation will ultimately value more than anything else. Some ebooks also have the option of audio so you don't even have to be present in the room for your kid to enjoy a story or two.

 

While ebooks may offer convenience, there's nothing like cuddling up with your kid and readng aloud to them. You can read aloud from an ebook, but the action of turning the pages together is missing. The aesthetic of a pop-up book or an interactive book like Eric Carle's, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is lost in the lifeless cold of technology. A paper book can become a family tradition – something you can collect and pass down from one family member to the next. There's also the idea that technology requires energy and power. If your computer or ereader dies then you're at a loss. But a book is tangible and available and won't give out if you don't charge it or have it plugged in. Traditional print books are also cheaper for someone who isn't an avid reader and only buys a few books per year. Not to mention, losing a book or tearing a book is less costly than losing or breaking an ereader. When it comes to children, there's always the fear of throwing, coloring, or stomping on anything you put in their hands. Why worry about your kid destroying your expensive new laptop or ereader when you can buy a $5 book from the bookstore down the street?

 

So who wins the battle between ebooks vs. paper books? Neither really. They both have their advantages and disadvantages especially in regards to children's books. One cannot just purchase an ebook without also having special devices or special computers. If the hardware, Internet connection, or battery power that is required by your ebook is not available, then its electronic documents are useless. They're also more expensive than printed books because they require power. It may also be difficult to navigate through an ebook because you can't just flip through the pages. But paper books also have their disadvantages. They can easily be torn or destroyed by one small spill of milk. They're a pain to carry around and it's just one more thing to weigh down that purse or bag. There's also the idea that your kid is behind in this rapidly advancing technological movement. More and more kids own their own computers, iPods, phones. Even small toddlers are taught how to read and write from watching tv shows on TV or on the computer nowadays.

 

The ebook is revolutionary, it's innovative, and it is the direction that our society is ultimately heading in. There will be a time when paper books are outdated but it won't be for a while. With an ebook you have hundreds of children's books at your fingertips without having to drive down to the store to get them. But with a traditional paper book, you can read from the same one your parent read to you as a child. Our kids already won't know what super soakers are, what it's like to watch the Lion King on VHS, or even understand that the “save” button on the computer is a floppy disk and not just a blue square with three smaller white ones. At the rate the iPod Generation is going, paper books will be taking a seat inbetween N'Sync and the Yellow Pages...if you let them.

 

Image (CC) ThomasLife 

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