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Last month a huge step toward getting every child in America access to amazing books was taken with the official launch of Open eBooks! The White House announced the news to the excitement of librarians, educators and families across the United States on February 24th. Open eBooks is part of the White House ConnectED Initiative which aims to increase access to digital resources as a component of enriching K-12 education. You can read the official press release here.
The project is made possible through a partnership with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the New York Public Library, Baker and Taylor, First Book, and made possible by generous commitments of publishers with funding support provided in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. What a great example of many institutions coming together for a greater cause!
The Open eBooks app is now available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. This app provides access to thousands of free eBooks, including many award-winning and popular titles, to youth in low-income communities via their smartphone or tablet. The app not only provides access to children across the country, but also provides access to children on military bases! To get access to the app youth, or an adult working with them, can download the app and enter credentials provided by a person registered with First Book to enable access to the eBooks.
So how do you get access? If you work at a library that serves at least 70% of children from low-income families, and your library hosts a program specifically focused on supporting these youth, you may register with First Book here. Eligibility can be determined by a variety of factors, including the E-Rate of your library or Title I eligibility of the neighborhood school. After you are registered, you can request access codes for Open eBooks through First Book, whose Marketplace is the eBook distributor for the project. You can request as many codes as you would like for each collection of Open eBooks. Once you have your codes, you can distribute the codes to the children or caregivers to use with the Open eBook app on their personal devices.
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Some great features include the ability to read without checkouts or holds, which makes access to reading materials even easier for users. Youth can borrow up to 10 books at a time and replace each book with a new book as many times as they’d like.
Did you know that you can help choose the next round of eBooks for Open eBooks? The DPLA Curation Corps is a group of librarians and other information professionals who help coordinate books for inclusion in the program. The DPLA is currently accepting applications to for the second class of Curation Corps members! You can find more information about getting involved and how to apply here. The deadline to apply is April 1st!
The goal of Open eBooks is to grow a love of reading and hopefully encourage children to read more often, either through using their local library, at school, or by using another eBook reading app. Even if you won’t have the ability to distribute codes at your library, you can still spread the great news and help to make your community aware of this awesome project. I can’t wait to see this program grow and expand!
Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee. You can reach her at email@example.com.
The post Opening Digital Doors with Open eBooks appeared first on ALSC Blog.
I was planning on blogging last night but I got distracted. I know, it’s mind boggling, right? After all these years of dedicated and regular blogging what could possibly distract me from the task at hand?
Why books of course!
I haven’t had anything to review from Library Journal for months and I was beginning to wonder if they were trying to quietly forget about me and that would be totally cool because I was also really enjoying not having any books to read and review on their short 2-week deadline. But then in my mailbox arrived a book from them to review. This one is called Melville in Love: The Secret Life of Herman Melville and the Muse of Moby Dick by Michael Sheldon. The title makes it sound kind of cheezy but Sheldon is a Pulitzer Price finalist in biography and the book is based on some fresh archival research. The muse in question is Sarah Morewood, a married woman with whom Melville had an affair around the time of his writing of Moby Dick. Racy! This might be interesting.
I also received an unsolicited book in the mail, The Miner by Natsume Soseki. Written in 1908, the book is a modernist classic in Japan where Soseki has the literary fame equivalent to Charles Dickens. Haruki Murakami also claims it is one of his favorite books. I have no idea when I might be able to read this book, but I put it on my reading table, the one with the pile of books that doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.
And then I had to download some books to my Kobo because, do I need a reason? I got them all from Project Gutenberg for some classics yumminess. I had been thinking of rereading Jane Eyre and since I am reading A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman , a biography of Charlotte and her messed up family, it seemed like a good time to make sure the book was at hand. Very likely I will start reading it in the next day or two. Then I also got several “forgotten classics” by women that I culled from a list I can no longer remember from where. Today being International Women’s Day, you can possibly add them to your ereader or TBR list too:
- The Morgesons by Elizabeth Stoddard. Published in 1862, the novel follows the education and development of Cassandra Morgeson, a middle-class American girl. Supposedly it challenges the religious and social norms of the time.
- Moods by Louisa May Alcott. This was Alcott’s first novel. Published in 1864 and revised in 1882, tomboy Sylvia Yule goes on a river camping trip with her brother and his two friends both of whom fall in love with her. She marries one of them but discovers too late she chose the wrong one. What’s a girl to do?
- American Indian Stories by Zitkala-Sa. This is a collection of childhood stories, fiction and essays. Zitkala-Sa was Dakota Sioux and born on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota. She was taken away by missionaries when she was eight and sent to a Quaker boarding school in Indiana.
- Hidden Hand by Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth. First serialized in the New York Ledger in 1859, then twice more after that before appearing as a book in 1888, it is the story of Capitola Black and her various adventures.
- Anne by Constance Fenimore Woolson. Woolson is the grandniece of James Fenimore Cooper. This was her first novel, published in 1880. The story deals with the emotional and spiritual conflicts that arise when the young heroine leaves her home in Mackinac Island for a future in the Northeastern U.S. It was a bestseller in its day.
How are those for distractions?
With all this, before I knew it, my blogging window had closed and I spent a few minutes puttering around and psyching myself up for a hard bike workout – forty minutes of “sweet spot” training. That translates to pedaling just below my FTP (fitness threshold power) for the whole time. It also translates to forty minutes of playing mind games with myself – you can do it, no I can’t, yes you can, I’m going to quit, no you’re not, and on and on. I made it to the end and felt better for it, but ugh, sometimes working out is more of a mental game than it is a physical one.
Anyway, books, very distracting. Tomorrow I should actually have a review of a book that I did not want to end. Isn’t that a good tease?
Filed under: Books
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At Lee & Low Books, we’ve always known that making diverse books is only half the battle. The other half is getting those books into schools, libraries, bookstores, homes, and ultimately into kids’ hands. For low-income families, purchasing just one book can seem like a luxury, and giving kids access to a full library can seem like a distant dream. Yet we know that lack of access to books contributes significantly to lower reading levels and a widening achievement gap, leaving many kids in this country behind.
Our motto is “About everyone, for everyone,” and we take that motto seriously, not just in terms of the books we publish but also in terms of access to those books. That’s why we are proud to announce that our books will be part of Open eBooks, a new initiative and e-reader app that will make thousands of popular, top-selling eBooks available free to children in need. Launched this week, the Open eBooks initiative will make it easier than ever for low-income students to get access to great books that build literacy, nourish the soul, and ignite the imagination.
Here’s First Lady Michelle Obama with more information:
We are so excited to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative. Keep reading for the full press release, and please spread the word to anyone you know who may be able to benefit from this program. Registration is now open!
Open eBooks, a new initiative and e-reader app that will make thousands of popular, top-selling eBooks available to children in need for free, has just launched. First Lady Michelle Obama released a video raising awareness of the new opportunity for children and parents. The initiative is designed to address the challenge of providing digital reading materials to children living in low-income households, and offers unprecedented access to quality digital content, including a catalog of eBooks valued at more than $250 million.
President Obama announced a nongovernmental eBooks effort in support of the ConnectED Initiative at the April 30 Kids Town Hall held by the White House at the Anacostia Branch of the District of Columbia Public Library. ConnectED is multi-pronged effort designed to provide all youth with access to high-quality digital learning tools. Since it launched, over 20 million more students have been connected to high-speed broadband in their schools and libraries and millions more are taking advantage of its free private sector resources. Open eBooks complements the new digital infrastructure to provide an opportunity for kids in need to have a world-class eLibrary in their homes.
A coalition of literacy, library, publishing and technology partners joined together to make the Open eBooks program possible. The initiative’s partners — Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), First Book, and The New York Public Library (NYPL), with content support from digital books distributor Baker & Taylor — created the app, curated the eBook collection, and developed a system for distribution and use.
They received financial support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and content contributions from major publishers. National Geographic announced today that they will provide all of their age-appropriate content to the app, joining publishers Bloomsbury, Candlewick, Cricket Media, Hachette, HarperCollins, Lee & Low, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster, who made commitments providing thousands of popular and award-winning titles last year.
The books in the Open eBooks collection were selected by the DPLA Curation Corps, which was established to ensure a diverse, compelling, and appropriately targeted set of thousands of titles— something from which every child could read, enjoy, and learn. The Curation Corps was selected through a competitive process from a pool of more than 140 applicants from across the country, and they bring their extensive experience helping children select titles in school and public libraries.
Adults who work with children in need through libraries, schools, shelters and clinics, out-of-school programs, military family services, early childhood programs and other capacities can qualify for Open eBooks credentials by first signing up with First Book and then requesting Open eBooks access for the children they serve. Students can download the free Open eBooks app to their individual devices from the App Store or Google Play and enter their access code to start enjoying Open eBooks.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this fantastic initiative that will bridge a major gap in our society and help all children discover a love of reading,” said Dan Cohen, DPLA’s executive director. “Maximizing access to our culture has been the Digital Public Library of America’s goal from its inception, and we are so delighted to join together with such great partners to make eBooks much more widely available.”
“The Open eBooks initiative recognizes the critical need for books — in all forms — among children growing up in families in need,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “We’re proud to support this ground-breaking effort to put high quality digital content into the hands of those who need it most, and to welcome the teachers and program leaders seeking access to these resources into the largest national network of educators serving kids in need.”
“The New York Public Library is proud to work with these partners on the Open eBooks initiative, in support of the White House’s ConnectED initiative that is perfectly aligned with NYPL’s mission to provide free and open access to information, education, and opportunity,” said Tony Marx, president and CEO of The New York Public Library.
“This program is the result of an extraordinary public-private partnership, which could not have been made possible without the support of many committed partners, particularly those in our libraries who really stepped forward to help move this vision into reality,” said IMLS Director Kathryn K. Matthew.
“Digital books open new doors to learning opportunities for students and can underpin brighter educational futures. IMLS is very proud to be a part of this unique initiative.”
“We hope that by donating our technology to this innovative program, we help expand access to information and create new reading opportunities for school-age children throughout America,” said George Coe, president and CEO of Baker & Taylor.
In the future, the partners will expand the initiative by adding to the collection with new and enhanced content from publishers and public domain titles; broadening the network of Title I schools, preschools, libraries, and other programs; incorporating new features into the app; and researching and sharing the effort’s impact and best practices.
Access and Equality
The Open eBooks initiative is a significant step toward more equitable digital access for all U.S. residents, addressing the need for free, quality digital content for children in pre-kindergarten through high school. Specifically targeting youth in need, Open eBooks aims to ensure that any device can be enjoyed as a tool to deepen a child’s love of reading.
While Internet access and device availability remain major hurdles in closing the digital divide, a recent study funded by the Gates Foundation and published by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center finds 85% of families below the poverty line have a mobile device (tablet or smartphone) in surveyed households with children aged 6 to 13. Additionally, a growing number of students can access and borrow electronic reading devices, and connect to the Internet at school and local public libraries. Open eBooks is designed to complement the Wi-Fi, computer, and physical book offerings of public libraries and school libraries, and serve as a gateway to more reading.
The Open eBooks Collection
The catalog of content in the Open eBooks initiative includes contributions of the most exciting, top-selling titles from publishers. Using Open eBooks, children will be able to build their own virtual collection of favorites and access single titles. The major publishers have committed to make thousands of popular and award-winning titles available to students over a three-year period include: Bloomsbury, Candlewick, Cricket Media, Hachette, HarperCollins, Lee & Low, Macmillan, National Geographic, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster.
Snapshot of the Open eBooks initiative
Each partner has made, and will continue to make, a unique contribution to the success of this initiative:
● The app: The New York Public Library developed the app that allows users to easily access the full text and illustrations of thousands of titles generously contributed by publishers.
● The distribution services: Baker & Taylor provided support with publisher relations, content management and the digital distribution technology.
● The eBook collection: The Digital Public Library of America recruited and enlisted a team of expert librarians to curate the collection to ensure a diverse, compelling, and appropriately targeted set of thousands of titles—something for every child at any age and reading level to read, learn from, and enjoy.
● Reaching the children: First Book, a non-profit social enterprise that provides books and educational resources to classrooms and programs serving kids in need, will tap into its network of more than 225,000 schools and programs to reach children in Title I schools, Head Start programs, military families, after school or community programs, and others serving low-income families.
The Open eBooks app is available through Title I and Title I-eligible schools as well as libraries, preschools, and community after school programs serving a minimum of 70 percent children in need. The program will also be available through schools and programs serving children whose families are enlisted in the armed forces, or serving special needs children.
How do programs and classrooms get started?
The Open eBooks initiative site, at www.openebooks.net, has full program instructions, including Frequently Asked Questions and links to program registration. From there, qualifying educators, librarians, community program directors, and others working with low-income children and youth must register their organization with First Book. Next, users will request a code and PIN combination for every student they serve or device available, and they should indicate the student’s grade level from one of three categories: elementary, middle or high school. Qualifying educators will be able to obtain enough codes to cover all of the students that they serve. Codes will correspond to Open eBooks Elementary Collection (for PreK – Grade 4), Open eBooks Middle School Collection (for Grades 5 – 8), Open eBooks High School Collection (for Grades 9 – 12). An All Ages code will also be available.
The registrant will receive a confirmation email with the codes and a letter for families and caregivers with instructions on how to download the Open eBooks app and input the code and PIN combination for their child. The app requires a device with an iOS 8.0 or later operating system or Android equivalent.
The Open eBooks app allows users to instantly borrow up to 10 eBooks at a time to their digital device. Each borrowed eBook will be available for 56 days before it must be renewed, or the eBook will be automatically returned. Because of this automatic return process, there are no late fees or penalties for Open eBooks users. Students and their families can choose eBooks based on the topics that get them excited about reading and learning, and sort by reading level, grade level, or title. The app can be used anywhere with an Internet connection.
The First Book Help Team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (866) 732-3669 (8am -6pm EST).
Information and updates on the initiative will be shared on the Open eBooks website and on Facebook and Twitter.
Ebooks have come a long ways since 2002 when they had just 0.05% of the marketplace! So, it's likely no surprise that the technology behind ebooks has also come a long ways. This infographic introduces you to the three types of ebooks we see today. The good news is that you can create your own [...]
Do you know what you want for your ebook cover or blog banner, but don't have the tools you need? I find that software for special purposes often costs a little more than I'd like to invest--so, my first go-to place is the Web to see what's out here for free. Here are some of [...]
Poor beleaguered print books.
I came across a report at the end of December that print books were making a recovery. E-book sales have leveled off, even dropped a little, and sales of print books were having a little rebound. Huzzah!
The tech evangelists predicted the ebook market would eventually be 50 to 60 percent of books sales. Of course one could say these were tech people making these predictions, not actual readers so what did they know anyway? It appears they were waaaayyyy off because ebook sales are pretty much staying steady at around 25 percent of the market.
But just as I begin to breathe a sigh of relief, I come across another article talking about a new threat to print books: audiobooks!
Oh yes, MarketWatch is all about audiobooks as the future of reading. They even have a bold header stating “Audiobooks have begun to outsell print.” They go on to toss out some numbers, audiobook sales totaled $1.5 billion last year. Spewing dollar amounts doesn’t really tell you anything really. Audiobooks are expensive, sometimes they cost a lot more than the print books. For instance a paperback copy of the first Harry Potter book can be had at Barnes and Noble for $6.76 but the audiobook costs $28.66! So don’t tell me dollars, tell me how many actual audiobooks were sold. They don’t of course.
What they do is provide examples of titles where the audiobook outsold the print book. We have a debut spy thriller, some supernatural romance novels, a business book. Based on these and the popularity of audible.com, the trend watchers have declared that audiobooks are the future of books.
Oy. I wonder how long this will last before someone else declares the real threat to print books is billboards or bumper stickers or some other crazy format. It’s all starting to sound like The Perils of Pauline with print books tied up on a railroad track. Or maybe it’s more like the boy who cried wolf?
Whatever the case, I’m not worried. Print books are not yet gasping their last breath.
Filed under: Audio Books
Cynthia Good is a leader in Canada's publishing industry, having worked her way from editorial director to president to publisher at Penguin Books Canada--then moving on to Humber College where she was named director emeritus and was awarded the Humber Award for Excellence in Teaching. This fall she gave a guest lecture at the University [...]
I want to take a moment on Labor Day to honor Cesar Chavez and share a new biography that conveys his life and work clearly for young readers. This is a must-have for school libraries, and also a good choice to have at home.
True Books biographies series
by Josh Gregory
Children's Press / Scholastic, 2015
Your local library
Cesar Chavez changed conditions for farm laborers across the United States, especially in California. He helped farm workers come together to demand better working conditions and fair wages, and still inspires people today to stand up for their rights.
|"Cesar Chavez changed farm labor in the United States."|
Bright photographs will draw students in to this biography, but it's the overall design that makes me recommend it so highly. This biography is written in clear, short sentences -- but more than that, it is organized clearly in a way that helps students form a clear picture of his life. As you can see from these examples, each chapter has a meaningful title, and sections headings help students create a focus for their reading. Captions provide focused information, and are set out in red.
|"Chavez talks with striking workers in a worker's home."|
The timeline is one of my favorite features. It is often difficult for students to piece together the different parts of a person's life. Here, the timeline helps young readers see the key details progress in chronological order.
|"1962: Chavez founds the National Farm Workers Association and begins gathering members."|©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
This biography is available in paperback for home or classroom use. Our schools subscribe to TrueFlix
, an online resource that lets students access full-text books as well as curated resources. I especially like the "read along" feature that provides full-text narration. Through this subscription, we have access to books on 18 different subject areas ranging from biographies to ancient civilizations to outer space.
You might also be interested in these picture books about the fight to improve the working conditions of farm workers in California:
The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Scholastic Library, as well as accessed through out TrueFlix subscription. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
Things have been quiet in the print versus digital debate lately for which I am glad, what’s the saying about beating a dead horse? I do understand that there is still much we don’t know about our brains and how reading online and reading in print affects how we read, what we read and how well we read it and I am grateful that the debate is heading down that river and away from the techno-evangelist’s books are dead digital utopia. But because it has been awhile since there has been anything “out there” about it, someone had to write an update about where we stand just in case we forget. And like a moth to the flame I had to fly right for it.
Everythig Science Knows about Reading on Screens is pretty much a summary to-date. You won’t find anything new or revelatory in the article unless you are one of the few readers in the world who have somehow managed to be disconnected from it all (and if you are that sort of reader, you have my admiration!).
What is most striking about this article is how it proves a number of things about reading on screens that it discusses. Like skimming. The presentation of the article invites it with blurry moving things on the header and cutting up the text of the article. I almost didn’t finish reading the article because all of the moving blurs were giving me a headache! The article quotes Ziming Liu, a researcher at San Jose State University:
Liu noted in his study that sustained attention seems to decline when people read onscreen rather than on paper, and that people also spend less time on in-depth reading. ‘In digital, we can link in different media, images, sound, and other text, and people can get overwhelmed,” explains Andrew Dillon, a professor at the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin, “These are disruptive activities that can carry a cost in terms of attention.’
Ironically, this falls immediately below one of the big, moving blurry blocks! Distracting, check! Overwhelming, check!
We’ve been trained by internet articles like this one. It isn’t necessarily that I want to skim or that I purposely interrupt my reading with distractions, it’s the way words have been presented on the internet since websites were invented that has made me read this way on a screen. So is it any surprise then when given an article or story to read on a screen even without all of the attendant internet bling that I might read it just as though all that bling were there?
The article concludes:
Despite the apparent benefits of paper, Mangen and other reading researchers caution the screen-reading vs. traditional reading question has nuances that scientists have yet to fully understand. Which method works better may depend on the individual (for example, there’s evidence that for some people with dyslexia, e-readers improve reading speed and comprehension). Ultimately, it may be that both print and screen have unique advantages, and we’ll need to be able to read equally well on both—which means keeping our distracted habits onscreen from bleeding into what we read on an e-book or paperback. And reading researchers have some advice for how to prevent this: forget your smartphone and computer, sit down, and read a book.
Common sense. But I have to stop myself decrying the painfully obvious conclusion because common sense isn’t always a strong point for a good many people I have found, especially those getting grants to study the things that avid readers already know and could have told them without any trouble. Should it ever happen that researchers ask us one of these days about print and digital reading, someone is going to have to pick me up off the floor because I will have fainted.
Filed under: Books
Tagged: print v digital
By: Marissa Wasseluk,
Blog: First Book
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At the heart of First Book’s mission to help children in need read, learn and succeed is the distribution of educational content. Breaking down the barriers to accessing books and other information can lift the kids we serve and their communities out of poverty and into bright futures.
When President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative two years ago, he set an ambitious goal to provide 99 percent of American students with access to next-generation broadband internet in their classrooms and libraries by 2018. And this past April, the President followed up on this commitment with the Open eBook Initiative, a program aimed at creating a world-class digital library and making it available to students aged 4-18 from low-income families.
First Book is proud to partner with the White House to support this bold program that will bring all of America’s classrooms into the digital age. Specifically, First Book will help ensure the eBooks library reaches students in low-income families.
Many of the 180,000 schools and educational programs we serve are already working to transform their districts’ teaching and learning in the digital age. We’re excited to support Open eBooks to reinforce their efforts and take strides to ensure all children have a world of knowledge within reach.
The post How First Book & The White House are Transforming Education Today appeared first on First Book Blog.
According to Facebook (my birthday calendar of record), it's Squire Babcock's birthday, which immediately brings to mind a great road trip with Aaron Burch and Matt Bell to Murray State University, a fried bologna sandwich, the Wiggles, a great cheeseburger in the middle of Ohio, broken bottles of beer, Matt Bell's great sleeping dilemma, and really enjoying the hell out of Squire's novel, The King of Gaheena, on the ride home.
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Blog: Miss Marple's Musings
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I have known Sarah Towle since my early days of writing. Back before I moved from Nice to New York and she moved from Paris to London. One day we may actually end up living in the same city! We … Continue reading
The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into how Amazon distributes e-books.
The group will look closely at Amazon’s contracts with publishers to see if the terms are more favourable or to Amazon than to their competitors. The organization is concerned that favorable terms for Amazon may make it more difficult for other e-book distributors to compete with the e-commerce giant.
“Amazon has developed a successful business that offers consumers a comprehensive service, including for e-books,” stated Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy. ” Our investigation does not call that into question. However, it is my duty to make sure that Amazon’s arrangements with publishers are not harmful to consumers, by preventing other e-book distributorsfrom innovating and competing effectively with Amazon. Our investigation will show if such concerns are justified.”
I do most of my reading on my iPad and my Kindle; it's easier for traveling, especially since I always have multiple books on the go and angst too much about which one to take with me.
However, I still strongly prefer print when it comes to picture books.
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If you received a book over the holidays, was it digital or printed on paper? E-books (and devices on which to read them) are multiplying like rabbits, as are the numbers of eReading devotees. It’s easy to assume, particularly in the United States, with the highest level of e-book sales worldwide, that the only way this trend can go is up.
Yes, there was triple-digit e-book growth in 2009, 2010, and 2011, though by 2014 those figures had settled down into the single digits. What’s more, when you query people about their reading habits, you find that wholesale replacement of paper with pixels will be no slam-dunk.
Over the past few years, my colleagues and I have been surveying university students in a variety of countries about their experiences when reading in both formats. Coupling these findings with other published data, a nuanced picture begins to emerge of what we like and dislike about hard copy versus digital media. Here are five facts, fictions, and places where the jury is still out when it comes to reading on-screen or on paper.
Cost is a major factor in choosing between print or the digital version of a book.
College students are highly cost-conscious when acquiring books. Because e-versions are generally less expensive than print counterparts, students are increasingly interested in digital options of class texts if making a purchase. (To save even more, many students are renting rather than buying.)
Yet when you remove price from the equation, the choice is generally print. My survey question was: If the price were identical, would you prefer to read in print or digitally? Over 75% of students in my samples from the United States, Japan, Germany, and Slovakia preferred print, both for school work and when reading for pleasure. (In Germany, the numbers were a whopping 94% for school reading and 90% for leisure.)
The “container” for written words is irrelevant.
There’s a lot of talk these days about “content” versus “container” when it comes to reading. Many say that what matters in the end is the words, not the medium through which they are presented. The argument goes back at least to the mid-eighteenth century, when Philip Dormer, the Earl of Chesterfield, advised his son:
Due attention to the inside of books, and due contempt for the outside is the proper relation between a man of sense and his books.
When I began researching the reading habits of young adults, I assumed these mobile-phone-toting, Facebooking, tweeting millennials would be largely indifferent to the look and feel of traditional books.
I was wrong. In response to the question of what students liked most about reading in hard copy, there was an outpouring of comments about the physical characteristics of printed books. Many spoke about the aesthetics of turning real pages. One said he enjoyed the feel of tooled Moroccan leather. They enthused about the smell of books. In fact, 10% of all Slovakian responses involved scent.
E-books are better for the environment than print.
Debate continues over whether going digital is the clear environmental choice. Yes, you can eliminate the resources involved in paper manufacturing and book transport. But producing – and recycling – digital devices, along with running massive servers, come with their own steep costs. The minerals needs for our electronic reading devices include rare metals such as columbite-tantalite, generally mined in African conflict-filled areas, where profits often support warlords. Recycling to extract those precious metals is mostly done in poor countries, where workers (often children) are exposed to enormous health risks from toxins. The serried ranks of servers that bring us data use incredible amounts of electricity, generate vast quantities of heat, and need both backup generators and cooling fans.
Today’s young adults are passionate about saving the environment. They commonly assume that relying less on paper and more on digits makes them better custodians of the earth. When asked what they liked most about reading on-screen – or least about reading in hard copy – I heard an earful about saving (rather than wasting) paper. Despite their conservationist hearts, internal conflict sometimes peeped through regarding what they assumed was best for the environment and the way they preferred to read. As one student wrote,
I can’t bring myself to print out online material simply for environmental considerations. However, I highly, highly prefer things in hard copy.
Users are satisfied with the quality of digital screens.
Manufacturers of e-readers, tablets, and mobile phones continue to improve the quality of their screens. Compared with devices available even a few years ago, readability has improved markedly. However, for university students who often spend long hours reading, digital screens (at least the ones they have access to) remain a problem. When asked what they liked least about reading on-screen, there was an outpouring of complaints in my surveys about eyestrain and headaches. Depending upon the country, between one-third and almost two-thirds of the objections to reading on-screen involved vision issues.
It’s harder to concentrate when reading on a screen than when reading on paper.
True – by a landslide.
My question was: On what reading platform (hard copy, computer, tablet, e-reader, or mobile phone) did young adults find it easiest to concentrate? “Hard copy” was the choice of 92% (or more) of the students in the four countries I surveyed. Not surprisingly, across the board, respondents were two-to-three times as likely to be multitasking while reading on a digital screen as when reading printed text. It goes without saying that multitasking is hardly a recipe for concentrating.
How does concentration relate to reading? There are different ways in which we can read: scanning a text for a specific piece of information, skimming the pages to get the gist of what is said, or careful reading. The first two approaches don’t necessarily require strong concentration, and computer-based technologies are tailor-made for both. We search for specific keywords, often using the ‘Find’ function to cut to the chase. We jump from one webpage to the next, barely reading more than a few sentences. When we wander off from these tasks to post a status update on Facebook or check an airfare on Kayak, it’s not that hard to get back on track.
What computer technology wasn’t designed for is deep reading: thoughtfully working through a text, pausing to reflect on what we’re read, going back to early passages, and perhaps writing notes in the margins about our own take on the material. Here is where print technology wins.
At least for now, university students strongly agree.
Headline image credit: Books. Urval av de böcker som har vunnit Nordiska rådets litteraturpris under de 50 år som priset funnits by Johannes Jansson/norden.org. CC-BY-2.5-dk via Wikimedia Commons.
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By: John Nez
Blog: John Nez
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I love sharing poems with kids that create a sense of motion and play through the way they twist words, create movement and bounce to their own rhythm. Newbery winning author Kwame Alexander called basketball "poetry in motion", and today I'd like to flip that metaphor around to celebrate two collections that celebrate sports with poetry in motion.
by Jack Prelutsky
illustrated by Chris Raschka
Knopf / Random House, 2007
Your local library
Prelutsky celebrates sports from baseball to soccer to gymnastics, gleefully swinging and catapulting through motion and emotions that will resonate with kids. They'll love his playful rhymes, and they will connect with the way these short untitled poems can get to the heart of how they feel.
"I'm at the foul line, and I bet
The ball will go right through the net.
I'm certain I will sink this shot,
For I've been practicing a lot.
I concentrate, then let it go...
I know it's good--I know, I know.
It makes an arc, I make a wish,
Then hear the soft, sweet sound of SWISH!"
Share these short poems with kids and ask what they notice -- do they like the rhythm and rhyming of the first two lines, or maybe the use of the "s" sounds (alliteration) in the last line, emphasizing the sound of SWISH
of the basketball. Rashka's illustrations are loose and impressionistic, especially appealing to 3rd through 5th graders because they don't feel too young. I love how he incorporates diverse kids throughout--the player making the shot above has long wavy red hair, maybe a girl or maybe a boy.
For poems that celebrate all sorts of outdoor playing, definitely look for A Stick Is an Excellent Thing
, with Marilyn Singer's playful poetry and LeUyen Pham's joyful illustrations.
A Stick is an Excellent Thing
Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
by Marilyn Singer
illustrations by LeUyen Pham
Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
Your local library
Kids will love the way these short poems celebrate all types of playing outside, whether it's balancing on the curb, running through a sprinkler, making stone soup with friends. Use these poems to make kids smile and also use them to show how poetry can create a freeze frame, its own small moment. Here's one that my students will definitely relate to:
I like to walk the edges--
the curbs, the rims, the little ledges.
I am careful not to tilt,
to stumble, lump or wilt.
I pay attention to my feet
so that every step is neat.
I am dancing in the air
but I never leave the street.
Pham's illustrations are full of bouncing, running, smiling kids, in both city and suburban scenes. Kids are playing in large and small groups--I love how she shows how much kids like to play together
. Her kids are modern and multicultural, and full of smiles on every page. My older students will relate to Singer's poems, but the illustrations make this collection best suited for younger kids.
Both review copies were borrowed as ebooks
from the San Francisco Public Library
while I was on vacation. Hooray! I especially appreciate the way SFPL has ebook tutorials
for first time users. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
We’ve often wondered when books would be offered as in-flight entertainment here at GalleyCat. For years, Virgin America had books listed on its entertainment module only to be greeted with a “coming soon” note, before it was removed altogether.
But the promise has finally come true thanks to a new partnership between Southwest Airlines, e-book company Kobo and Bauer Communications. Together the companies are making free e-books available to passengers on Southwest planes while the planes are in flight.
Hundreds of digital titles will be available to fliers from Kobo’s digital reading platform via the airline’s inflight entertainment portal. The offering includes full books and extended previews bestsellers and new releases from publishers including: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster, Inc., Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, and Open Road Media, among others.
Travelers can use their own WiFi-enabled devices to connect to the entertainment portal and access the titles. After the flight, readers will get a follow up email with information on how to purchase the e-book if they want.
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