The other day, someone on Facebook posted a video of a one-year-old getting frustrated with a magazine because the pages wouldn't slide like they do on an iPad. It got us thinking about the question that all writers and readers have been pondering since the digital evolution hit us: Are books dying? And should we struggle to keep them alive at all?
Matter over medium
Part of me will be happy to see the death of the book. Hang on, before you accuse me of being an anti-literacy campaigner, hear me out. I'm 100% pro-reading; I just wouldn't mind seeing the death of the physical book, printed on paper that we could save and with a carbon footprint we could avoid.
And why not? As much as we've all enjoyed smuggling our Noddys around in textbooks as kids, won't you admit that minus the sentimentality, ebooks and the Kindle are infinitely more convenient? What would you rather fight for? A cause or a medium? Face it, today's kids belong to a generation where technology is a part of their lives from the word go. They're digital natives, and their choice of medium will reflect that.
Not really an either/or
Many Internet hours have been dedicated to the 'gadgets and games versus reading' argument, occupying heaps of server space on the Internet, but you know what, I think that there is no 'versus' to begin with! Of course reading is important. But we need to recognise the stimulation that an iPad can provide children and make the best use of the interactive learning games available today. (PS: we love the Smart Table-it's so cool!) Our sentimental attachment for the way things 'used to be' should not hold our kids' back from adopting technology-it is key to the world they're living in. So encourage gadgets and games, they have an important role to play, don't you think?
The only place where the 'versus' really applies in this argument is in terms of TIME. The questions really are: How does one divide a kid's time between the instant gratification of the Wii, Kinect and iPad apps, and the knowledge and intellectual exercise of reading? How much do you think kids should read and how does one get them hooked?
We'd love to hear your answers for the first question. And for the second one, click here for tips on inculcating the reading habit in kids.