As the holidays approach, people often ask me what are good gifts to get for both adults and children that have some sort of a technology spin. I have to say, it really depends on your family dynamic, what your values are and how comfortable you are with technology and that technology in the hands of your children. But in the case of reading, I think it is important to balance physical books with digital ones!
I sometimes use technology as a babysitter, a teacher or a nanny, partly because I’m a bit lazy, but also partly because technology will govern the lives of our children and it is important for them to not only understand technology, but also be comfortable with it. As generations get older, they seem to become more afraid of technology. My kids adopt it without much afterthought, but my parents use only the basics and nothing more.
Believe it or not, my youngest daughter learned how to read using my iPad — or at least she got better at reading that way and developed a passion for reading in the process.
When my daughter started 1st grade, she really couldn’t read. But by the time school ended, you always saw her with a book in her hand and she wanted to show you how well she read. It was an amazing transformation. I do sincerely believe that her teacher inspired her to become an avid reader, but I have a sneaking suspicion that her own “independent study” on my iPad actually bettered her reading.
I do think that as our youngest generation grows, they will view keyboard-less tablets as the norm, much the way we think of computers. Flipping digital pages on a tablet (whether it be an iPad or an Android tablet) will be something that our kids grow up with. They will no longer have to lug around huge text books but instead, just carry a tablet of sorts. Let’s hear it for no more broken backs and much less expensive books, and the fact that you can digitally highlight and take notes all on one device. That is efficiency.
And we are teaching this to our children now. My youngest child became addicted to the Dr. Seuss iPad application books. The words and story were spoken and highlighted on the screen as they were read. She could push on a word to highlight it and have it spoken out loud. Also, pictures were clickable and had the words spoken out loud as well. She would literally spend hours on the same book, listening to it over and over again.
This interactivity and immediate feedback is what inspired her to read more, I believe. She started sucking in more and more iPad books of one sort or another, mainly Dr. Seuss books. After a few months, she moved beyond the tablet and into the hard-copy book. And ever since then, she hasn’t really looked back. Occasionally, she will play around with a Dr. Seuss book but only just for fun. Now in 2nd grade, she likes chapter books.
Modern children are growing up with computers, smartphones and tablets. Even though many of us, myself included, think of these devices as being distracting and a time suck, the other part of me knows that it is important to “socialize” our kids with these types of technology (yes, I realize this is a bit of an oxymoron).
My child really improved her reading capabilities via technology and since tech is so prevalent nowadays and pretty much critical for later success, encourage your children to read on a tablet. You should provide a balance between “old fashioned” books and “new fangled” digital and interactive books. In the end, your child will actually have a passion for reading!