Could ebooks actually get in the way of reading?

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Part of this article, reporting on the research by 2 professors into middle school students and what they get from reading traditional texts vs ebooks, rang a bell with me.

‘While young readers find these digital products very appealing, their multitude of features may diffuse children’s attention, interfering with their comprehension of the text, Smith and the Schugars found. It seems that the very “richness” of the multimedia environment that e-books provide—touted as their advantage over printed books—may actually overwhelm kids’ limited working memory, leading them to lose the thread of the narrative or to process the meaning of the story less deeply.’

I have recently bought a Mac, as our school is very much becoming a Mac school and I wanted to be able to play around  with the technology at home, and try out programs like IBook Author. Plus I have made ebooks on Creative Book Builder with my library classes and also used ebook apps with my kinder library classes. And I spruik our school library’s ebook collection on Borrowbox!! So I have a fair bit to do with encouraging my students to have a go at ebooks in their different forms.

So the comment above has made me stop and think…certainly, I feel, as a teacher, that to be doing a good job, I need to keep up with the latest and greatest technology, to engage children, to enter into their world. And ebooks are part of that world.

Maybe they should not be seen as the future of books and I should continue to be circumspect in my showcasing of them – having lots of bells and whistles is not always a good thing, particularly for younger, developing readers.

Thanks, Heather and Jordan and Smith and for the thought.

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