This is from the NYTimes. The school mentioned is giving away ALL of it’s books to make the library a digital center. Twenty thousand books are to be distributed.
This article comes on the heels of another I read about getting a Kindle into the hands of every grade-school student. I can’t find the article I read originally, but here is another on the same topic: The Government Should Spend $9 Billion Buying Every Kid A Kindle.
I probably wouldn’t have thought about this before, but now I’m in a Title 1 school and my first thoughts were about the kids – the kids that don’t have the advantages that my kids had. Are they well served at a school without a library? How will children who are 2 or 3 years behind in reading respond to words, story, information that is ALWAYS presented on screen? What will happen when the device is sent home and placed on the kitchen counter of a family that doesn’t have enough money for food? Transient rates are high in many Title 1 schools. What happens when a family moves and the device is not returned? I do not in any way want to sound judgmental but rather contemplative. I want to examine this from all angles, because once the government issues funding for this, we will be knee deep in it.
I’m trying to look at this from the eyes of a novice reader – that’s difficult because I’m not. But if every book to which a child is exposed (because the family can’t or doesn’t buy books) is on a screen, will that book have the same draw as one with paper pages? I don’t know, but I am curious about this phenomenon.
On this subject, one of ECU’s MLS professors summed her view up nicely (via email),
This discussion of the demise of the book came up when the radio appeared, and again, with the television, and again with the computer. Hasn’t happened – there are many more books published today for youth than there were with the first predicted demise of the book. It is not an either/or situation. This is about format, space, and timeliness of information. If the digital format is the best choice, then choose it, but don’t choose it because it is digital. It is similar to people choosing hardware first and then realizing the software they really want to use doesn’t work with the hardware. Determine the information/leisure reading materials suitable for the community you serve and then determine the most appropriate format, which may well be the book.