Curious George by ScrollMotion Publishing Perspectives posted an article yesterday by Kristen McLean, executive director of the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC), about the benefits that computer technology has had and e-books are likely to have for child literacy. (There is also a related editorial/discussion topic by Edward Nawotka.)

McLean notes that studies have shown literacy rates for children have already increased considerably over those for children of the same age prior to the computer. But reading literacy is only one kind of literacy that children are going to need in coming years.

Participation, collaboration, intuitive problem-solving, critical thinking, mindful attention and radical creativity — these types of literacy will be equally important in the globally networked world. We want active and empowered readers who control media, not the other way around, and new technologies along with traditional reading experiences are going to shape the future reader

What McLean foresees is not “the death of literacy and the book,” but the book continuing to exist alongside other tools for helping children learn. We’re already seeing this with interactive iPad adaptations of Alice in Wonderland and the Dr. Seuss books, among others—apps that are not quite “e-books” in the traditional sense, but heavily incorporate book-related elements.

McLean mentions an e-books-for-kids platform for the iPod Touch, Iceberg Kids, by appbook creator ScrollMotion (of which the Curious George e-book pictured above is an example). She notes that evidence shows parents are not using it in situations where they would formerly have used real books, but rather to replace non-educational games. She also cites a Kaiser Family Foundation study showing the the amount of time kids spend reading books has held steady, and even increased slightly, over the last ten years.

The article concludes that traditional books aren’t going anywhere—they’re still the best possible tool for building basic literacy. E-books, especially interactive app-style e-books, will complement rather than replace them.


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