Thursday, April 24, 2014

In Defense of Books

I tend to drag my feet when it comes to new technology. Sometimes I feel silly about this, because I'm supposed to be a member of the generation that is comfortable with the lightening fast changes technology throws at us. After all, I've been through the birth of the internet, the development of email, mp3s, texting, smart phones. 

Somehow, I always find myself dragging my feet in the back of the line when it comes to new things. I don't want to be a cautionary tale, trying to figure out what to do with my collection of laser discs or HD DVDs.

Also, I'm never quite convinced that latest and greatest could ever actually be that great. I had a film camera for years after digital cameras started coming on the market, because I hated the pixelated look of the digital cameras. Nothing would ever be as good as film. 

Umm, yeah.

When I started seeing Nooks, and Kindles, and other e-readers hit the market, I had an even more exaggerated response. Because it wasn't just another new technology.  It seemed that these devices were taking away the very soul of reading: sitting quietly, cracking the cover, turning the pages.

After an extended trip where I lugged around 3 huge novels in my carry on, I began to see the advantage of an e-reader. When I stayed up late on vacation and finished my book and had nothing the read on the return journey, I felt myself warming up to the idea even more. 

Turns out, I'm not completely against them.  I've read a couple of books on my tablet and it's just fine.

However, and maybe this is me just being me and continuing to drag my feet in the face of technological advancement, e-readers are not going to replace books in my house.

My family struggles with screen time. We set time limits and make rules and do the best we can to keep the time our children are sitting in front of a screen as minimal as possible. But then we get tired, or have bad days, or it's cold outside, and it's just easier to put on a movie or let them play Angry Birds or Minecraft. I'm always harping on my kids to get off the computer, put down the iPad, turn off the TV and do something else. Play outside! Build a puzzle! Read a book!

If books are all electronic, how can I continue to help my children see the difference between unhealthy screen time habits and healthy book reading habits?

I'm a voracious reader. Once I start a book, I have a hard time putting it down until I've finished the entire story. I always have a long list of books I want to read. I buy books and then keep them forever, unwilling to part with stories and characters I love.

So, I felt completely sucker punched when I commented a few weeks ago to my eldest that I loved seeing him enjoy reading as much as I do, and he replied in shock, "What?  I never see you reading!"

Sitting in front of a screen, my children can't differentiate if I'm skimming Facebook or absorbed in my favorite dystopian novel. They don't see me as a reader, no matter how many books are on my Kindle.

So that's why I'm going to continue to defend books. Good old fashioned, paper paged books. We will still make Sunday afternoon trips to the libraries. We will hold a physical book during bedtime family story time.  I will continue to tell my children to put down the tablet and pick up a book.

What are your thoughts on e-readers, electronic books, and making your children readers?


  1. I have the same struggle with my boys and screen time....I, too, have a ton of books at home and we try to take weekly weekend trips to the library. But....I have to say I personally love using a kindle app on my iphone. I tend to read after the boys go to bed, so I haven't had to deal with that quite yet, but I anticipate having some of the same issues you are addressing. Let me know when you've figured it out!

    1. I do like the ability to read when the lights are supposed to be off. That is a huge advantage of tablets.

  2. I try and try to read on a kindle or tablet but it's not the same. I need to feel the pages and smell the book smell to really get into a book. I'm sure they have their perks but its not for me! I need texture!

    1. I agree! Reading isn't just words on a scene, it's a full tactile experience.

  3. I love my Nook, but I love my paper books too. And I definitely see your point about limiting screen time for kids and setting a good example. It's a tough call, really.