KQED, the Bay Area's principal public radio station, also has a signal in "North Highlands - Sacramento." What I used to hear on 88.5 FM is now conveniently available at 89.3 instead.
This morning KQED ran the latest of its "Perspectives" series, in which members of the community share their insights about current affairs or cultural developments. Terence Krista, a school librarian in San Francisco, offered his views about the continuing value of print books for young readers. He bases this upon his experience observing children at a recent book fair hosted by his school.
I agree with much of Krista's commentary, both because it reflects his experience as a school librarian and because friends of ours with young children also talk about how much their kids love print books. In Krista's own words: "Children are such tactile beings, still discovering their world by touch. How pleasurable it must be to hold this container that so beautifully enfolds the stories they treasure."
Hear hear! Krista clearly loves his job as well as the children he reaches. And given the typical cognitive development of children, I believe that print books are more age and stage appropriate than electronic books.
This does not mean this is true for everyone at all stages of their lives. Unfortunately, though, Krista goes there. He pits print books against ebooks in a binary way, with zero sum observations like these: "If the [book] fair was selling books downloaded to some electronic reading device, would the longing and excitement have been the same?" "Recent reports have sales of ebooks down by 10%, while sales of paperbacks are up by 13...Maybe we are all weary of the tyranny of our electronic screens."
Ahem. Fluctuations in sales figures for what is still a very new technology are not indicative that this new technology is doomed. It may well be that ebooks never catch on, but we could also just be in a lull as the next generation of ereader technologies evolves. Print books, which now feel eternal, took decades to become commonplace after the invention of the printing press.
As an adult reader I value both print books (for the reasons Krista describes) as well as e-books. With an e-reader I can look up an unfamiliar word in context, highlight key passages in different colors that form an annotated code, take searchable notes, and insert multiple bookmarks. And, obviously, it is possible to carry around hundreds of books on a lightweight device in a way that is not possible with print. This is why public libraries now allow for the download of ebooks as well as the loaning of print.
There is no right or wrong here. These are just two different dissemination methods, each with their own strengths.
Absolutely -- let children discover the joy of print when they are young with minds wide open. But don't deny them the pleasures of an ebook as they get older and seek to sharpen those very same minds.