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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Musings on a digital world

May 4, 2012

I'm seriously considering getting my first-ever tablet soon. Not only would I be able to travel without the heft of enough books to keep me going for a week or so, a laptop wouldn't be needed for email and I could even read my favorite newspapers.

As an adult, however, I know how easy it is to be seduced to follow a link that takes me way off whatever topic I started with; what about children who are just beginning to develop skills to stay on task?

A recent link sent to me by a friend who knows my concerns about digitizing the world in which children live and learn made me think about where we're heading. South Korea is putting the brakes on making all of their elementary, middle and high schools textbooks digital.

Where are books going? They're being offered in multiple formats — digital, physical, audio — often from the time of their release. Is one format more effective for children than another? Why? What is the impact on a child's capacity to focus; to imagine; to solve problems creatively? How do digital books impact children at different ages and stages of development?

There doesn't seem to be a great deal of consensus yet and certainly these formats haven't been around long enough for meaningful longitudinal studies.

Some are suggesting the death of the book. But it does seem that more thought and research is needed before we diminish the role of physical books.

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