Get Them Reading!!
Nothing should replace the drive to get our kids reading, as they are the inheritors of the world we are leaving them. Reading broadens the mind, and allows understanding. However, in this article, I’d like to reason why I think print books have the most compelling virtues, and should be cherished.
The Publishers Association UK found that, in 2016, while digital sales increased overall to £1.7 billion, ebook sales declined by 3%, for the second year in a row. (Audio downloads were up 28% to £16m, academic/professional books up 6% to £277m).
in 2016, however, the real story has to be the return to the top of physical books, with total sales up 8%, topping £3 billion! This follows on from the prior year, when sales of printed books grew for the first time in four years, lifted by the adult colouring book craze, Girl on the Train, Fifty Shades of Grey, and the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, as ebooks suffered their first ever decline.
So – why are physical books still dominant and resurgent in popularity?
1: Touchy Feely
You can always put your hands on a printed book. The feel, the texture, the weight – all these are familiar and reassuring. You can curl up with a cup of tea and a good book – and its a lot less annoying if you spill said tea over your book! Even with all the great developments in e.g. Kindle technology, I can’t get as close to the characters through another computer screen, the enrichment, the entertainment, the way I can through a physical book (that does not need re-charging!).
2. Grow Old With Me
You can pick up a physical book today, tomorrow, or in twenty years time – it should still be as readable as when you first turned the pages. I have books bought when I was a young teenager – Lord of The Rings, for example – that trigger wonderful memories of time spent reading, and of people I discussed the stories with. Never had that with an eBook.
3. Sharing is Caring
The one-to-one gift of giving is irreplaceable. I love this quote from Donalyn Miller:
“Every book begins and ends with other people – the readers who suggest the book to us and encourage us to read it, the talented author who crafted each word, the fascinating individuals we meet inside the pages – and the readers we discuss and share the book with when we finish.”
― Donalyn Miller,
An eBook swap (however that is done – I dunno) cannot even come close.
But whatever about the in-person sharing – physical books can be shared with a worldwide audience, who may not have access to the e-readers. This was highlighted most recently in International World Literacy day, on 08 September. The pictures in this article tell a better story than I ever could!
4. Don’t You Forget About Me
If you have a physical book, lying unread on your bookshelf, it will give you that hard stare until you finally take it down, dust it off and read it. These books will haunt your dreams until you deal with them!! I think it is too easy to forget about your titles on your e-reader – you could have up to 1000 books on some models, and there is NO WAY you will get to them all.
5. Sleep With Me
A 2014 Harvard Medical study, on people having their bedtime read, that “e-books damage health and sleep”, compared with reading physical books. A light-emitting (LE) e-Book causes these effects, whereas basic Kindles (without backlight – do these even exist anymore??) and physical books do not affect your sleep ability.
6: Read Me, Seymour!
Physical books seem to improve reading comprehension. I know of at least 2 separate studies, one done in Westchester New York, and another conducted by Anne Mangan of Stavanger University Norway, that seem to indicate lower comprehension amongst readers of eBooks (e.g. on Kindles, iPads, etc). Interactive features in enhanced children’s eBooks may actually weigh against the text itself, as kids are more engaged physically, but to the detriment of the story itself. Information retention is seemingly better when acquired through physical reading!
7: I Hear You
Audio books are normally used in a different way and environment than physical books, which can impact for example what we remember of what we read. Audio books are great if you are multi-tasking at the time, for example, e.g. driving.
Audiobooks may not be as great where the topic/story becomes complex, whereas a physical book has pages you can dog-ear if needs be (get a bookmark though!).
An audiobook, in my opinion to really resonate, needs a compelling storyteller to bring it along, and it fairness some are really great. But again in my opinion nothing replaces your own imagination, your own interpretations of the story, putting your own accents and faces to the characters.
As always, would love to hear what you think!!