Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Whose Reading Life Is It? #SOL19 #TWTBlog
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Slice of Life: Whose Reading Life Is It? #SOL19 #TWTBlog

Don’t you think real books are better?

Do you really support kids reading on devices?

What about the feel of a book in your hand?

These questions tug at my heart.  Yes, I love the feel of a book in my hand.  I might even smell a new book since Mr. Schu introduced me to this ritual at a conference I attended.  My memories, my disposition, and my reading habits were developed with books in print.  I will admit that the feeling of utter joy and contentment with reading comes from holding a book in my hand.  But that is my story.

I am not sure I can say that kids don’t get that same feeling from holding a device in their hand.  They are developing their own identity as readers, their own relationship with books.  In terms of technology, I can’t begin to predict what is possible or what the world will be for these young students.  I mean, I would have never predicted nineteen, even ten, years ago that I could wear a watch that could track my son two states away.  No joke, I can locate him and yell at him from my wrist.  That is crazy!

Here’s the thing, I think we need to open ourselves up to the possibilities and opportunities of technology.  I believe kids are in front of screens too much – they need to get outside and have authentic, real interactions with other kids.  At the same time, if kids can access books more easily through a device, I have no problem with that.  I do not want my schema and bias to influence how kids feel about reading on a device.  I have to believe that reading on a device – visually and auditorily – is here to stay.  I would rather give up my image of reading than risk the next generation never developing a love of reading.


Yes, I do, but I am not certain I am right.

Yes, I do. They have them, they like them, and they can easily access books on them if I teach them how.

I think a feeling of joy and connection with reading comes from memories of the experience.  I don’t believe the material, paper vs. plastic, makes a difference.

The world is changing. We need to do everything we can to keep the joy of reading alive and well in a world we have yet to even imagine. Just think … I can listen to a book on my watch too!


Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 09:59h, 22 March Reply

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this myself. I too love the feel (and smell) of a book, but doesn’t the experience happen the words resound with the reader in some way? I think this should happen in powerful ways whether reading from paper or screens.

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    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 11:02h, 22 March Reply

    I remember my husband’s excitement about my birthday present several years ago. He’d bought me a Kindle, certain that it would be the best gift ever. I was gracious in my disappointment.
    To me there is nothing like a real book in my hands, but my grandchildren read almost exclusively on devices. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I believe, since they ARE reading.
    Still, I wonder if the experience is the same for them as it is for me. Do they scroll back to reread? Do they remember titles and authors? Does any of that matter?

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    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 12:27h, 22 March Reply

    A very good post, Clare. Of course, I do prefer to hold a paper copy in my hands but the kids are glued to the screen. When they have their devices, they are willing to do more reading and even more writing. I have seen this in many classrooms, particularly in middle schools. I spend so much time writing and creating on my laptop and tweeting and answering emails that to hold a book in my hands is eye relief. I do read on my kindle as well.

    But I agree with Diane. If it is a book, not an article, do they scroll back to reread? I remember having to flip back and forth to keep all of the characters straight when I read Tom Clancy novels (The Hunt for Red October, Red Storm Rising, Rainbow Six, Executive Orders). I do not do that when I read on the Kindle. It is too difficult.

    Who knows what reading on a device will look like in 2099? Maybe by then we can just insert a chip in our brains and read all the time!

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    Chris Margocs
    Posted at 13:40h, 22 March Reply

    I think that it’s important not to be anti-device; we need to limit our use of “no” when it comes to reading, to keep from discouraging the students who need the most encouragement. That being said, when I’ve informally surveyed my students on this very topic, they overwhelmingly prefer paper over digital. I find this very interesting, especially since I work on a higher-SES campus where students have plenty of access to technology at school and at home.

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    Sherri Spelic
    Posted at 15:34h, 22 March Reply

    I agree with your points here, Clare. We need to maintain a “both/and” stance and stay open to what works best for different kinds of readers. I observe my own 11 y-o who thoroughly enjoys books in hand and gladly exchanges one after the other in the library. And that probably has a lot to do with how his father and I continue to buy and stock print books. His tastes may change. For now I am deeply grateful that reading remains attractive and worthwhile to him.

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    Peg Bruno
    Posted at 21:24h, 22 March Reply

    I find this very interesting and it is an ongoing conversation. Interestingly BOTH of my boys (16 and 13) prefer to read books, not use their Kindles. I am a conundrum… I prefer to read children’s books (chapter, YA, etc) as well as professional books in paper form, but prefer to read my book club and for reading pleasure on my iPad. I love my iPad because I can use the back light and not use my lamp by my bed. It is easier on my eyes and allows me to relax.
    I think our goal has to be about getting kids to read. Nothing more, nothing less.

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    Mandy Robek
    Posted at 23:44h, 22 March Reply

    Such an interesting and timely piece as I pack for spring break and I’m contemplating just taking my Kindle. I have so many physical professional books too – need to go pack some realistic reading goals.

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    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 02:37h, 23 March Reply

    You and your watch! That thing’s a life changer for you!

    We are still a book family, AND I agree with all your points. I guess the wonder I have is the availability of distractions on a device. That being said, it a device is the access route for people to read, that works for me. One of my girls didn’t read until fifth grade when her teacher let her use play-aways. At 19, she is an authentic reader, always seeking and getting lost in a book. Bottom line: However we get them to read…

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