Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reading and E-reading in Middle Grade

A few weeks ago I interviewed CJ, my ten-year-old neighbor who loves (LOVES!) to read. But instead of a question and answer format, I'll share this interview more like a story--because I like stories, and so does CJ.

CJ is the oldest of four kids and has just finished fifth grade. In her family of six, she is the only one who truly loves reading, and CJ will give any book a chance, although fantasy is her favorite genre. She even reads things she doesn't like and can't remember not finishing a book she started.

An extremely proud Nook owner, CJ told me she probably reads half her books on her Nook and half are traditional books. She prefers the Nook, however, because she likes to personalize the screen, font, backlighting, and other fancy jazz to fit her mood. In her fifth grade class of 32 students, CJ knew six other kids with e-readers.

I asked CJ what she might say to a friend who doesn't enjoy reading, and she said she would tell them that reading improves your imagination because you have to put the book into a picture. When it comes to a book's ending, CJ likes the story to end on a question, things don't have to be wrapped up all pretty and fixed just so. CJ also re-reads books (some many times, especially those on her Nook) and reads multiple books at once!

CJ told me a lot of other things--for instance, she enjoys writing as well as reading and she even had a poem published this year in A Celebration of Poets which features young poets. But the one thing that struck me the most was when CJ said, "Reading makes me who I am."

CJ's preference of her e-reader and the e-reader's popularity among her classmates bodes well for the future of e-readers and prompts this question from me (although I am certainly not the first to ask it): Will traditional books disappear completely at some point, making e-books and other digital formats the only way to read? What do you think?


  1. Lucky parents! She sounds amazing. I have a daughter the exact same age, but she doesn't read as much that. She does love books though, and we read together almost every night. I got your comment, and you're right about my email. I'll have to fix that.

  2. As much as I love, love, love books, owning hundreds...I must admit that I have been seduced by the Kindle app on my iPad.

    My husband, who is not a big reader, has consistently read a book every weekend on his. I am hoping that my 10 year old reluctant reader son may think reading on the iPad is fun, and less intimidating as you can't see the size of the book.

    With that being said, I hope there are always printed books in the world.
    I guess I want to have my cake and eat it too.

  3. We aren't an e-reader family, but I know the revolution is coming. What struck me as something to entice the young uns was all the personalization possible on screen--I hadn't thaought of that, but I'm sure it's a huge draw for the digitalized.

    What also struck me and gave me one of those "Wow!" moments was CJ's profound phrase: "Reading makes me who I am." I'd never have been able to put that feeling into words when I was ten!!

  4. CJ sounds like a wonderful and mature person. I be she makes something of herself! I think that's awesome so many kids have e-readers. I don't think traditional publishing will end, but it will change.

  5. I don't think paper books will ever disappear. The National Archive says the only format they accept is paper - because all electronic formats keep changing. But I do think kids will tend to use more e-readers because they are cooler and they use so many other e devices. I love how CJ says "reading makes me who I am" - what insight for a 10 year old!

  6. CJ sounds like a bright, lovely young lady. I love when she says that readings improves your imagination and that books don't have to end "all pretty and fixed just so." Those are clear signs of a smart reader and critical thinker! Well done CJ!

    As for the Nook debate...I, myself, refuse to own one. I need my print books, I want my pretty cover that I can flip to, look at and carry around with me. I do worry about the fate of print books...that's part of my reluctance with e-readers. However, I one benefit of e-readers that I can't deny is that they get many reluctant readers to read. Some of my students who can't stand reading, love reading on their e-readers. Heck, they love annotating on their e-readers. If they don't understand a word, they can click on it and the definition will pop up...which makes me worry a bit about relying on context clues and critical thinking, but that's another debate for another time.

    Excellent question, Barbara! And please thank CJ for sparking an interesting question. (Also let her know her interview was quite impressive!)

  7. I have a Nook but rarely use it now. It was perfect when I was nursing my baby and only had one arm free... the Nook could lay on the armrest and I just had to flick my finger to turn the page. But I was never interested in paying for books so I just downloaded the free or at most $0.99 books (I know, and I eventually want people to buy mine if it ever gets to that point!) which truthfully were not the best books around. I am back to getting books from the library and don't mind being on a wait list if necessary. The only book we have purchased recently was one for my son b/c it was #2 in a series and was not available at his school library and had a long wait for just one copy at the library. And, he paid with HIS OWN money! :-) The one other thing I like about the Nook is the WiFi which is nice on vacations so I don't have to use my in-laws' or friends' computers.

    CJ sounds like a fun girl and this was a great idea for a blog post Barbara!

  8. I hope traditional books don't disappear completely. I love them so!

  9. I hope not! I love traditional books! However, I do love being able to change the font style and background on my kindle . . .it makes reading easier sometimes, plus I don't have to lug so many books around. Like CJ, I often read several books at a time. She sounds like an awesome neighbor!

  10. My kids have Kindle Fires but also read regular books. Its a good mix of the two. But as they get older, I expect them to read more from an eReader as this seems to be the trend.

  11. My 12-yr-old just won a Kindle Fire at school at the end of the school year. Right now she still likes her regular paperback books better, but I expect that to change as she gets used to it. I didn't like my Kindle as much when hubby bought one for me last Mother's Day, but now I carry it wherever I go! I'm glad for the increase of ereaders even more now that I signed a contract this week with a small indie publisher. Even thought it'll be available to order paperback, it's not like it'll be on the shelves all over America. Ereaders make it so much easier to obtain novels like mine--yay:)

  12. Love the opinions and feedback. I, too, hope traditional books are always available but know that e-books will continue to gain popularity. My most beloved books are the ones I buy physical copies of, and just seeing them in my bookcase makes me happy. That is one thing you can't get with an e-book--the prettiness of it on a bookshelf. These are the books I read again and again, and there is something very satisfying about turning ACTUAL paper pages.

  13. love that we are getting this from a middle grade perspective -- by an avid reader to boot. she sounds so mature and thoughtful.

    i wasn't keen on e-readers when they came out, and i still prefer paper books. but i'm excited for e-readers to expand, and i fully understand why many kids would prefer them over books.

  14. C.J. sounds like a really interesting kid - thanks for giving us her opinions and starting this discussion.

    Both of my daughters are avid readers (I actually have to ask them to put their books down while they're doing chores such as drying dishes, etc. because they take their books everywhere).

    My 16-yr-old doesn't like the e-reader and prefers paper books. She says she doesn't get enough of the book on each "page" and doesn't like constantly pressing to move to the next page.

    My 12-year-old likes both the e-reader and paper books. I expect if she had a reader where she could change background colours, etc. she'd really love it. But she'd like an iPad more, so she could do other things, like draw, too.

  15. I hope both e-books and print books remain available.

    So far, I find e-reading a different experience than "book" reading. I can't sink down into the story in the same way in e-form.

    Isn't it great to find a kid who loves to read?


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