Recently I had the light-hearted pleasure of accompanying a kindergartner and a soon to be 4th grader to the local Arden Fair Barnes & Noble Store . It was different. Unlike the most recent look of the store that’s always been the look.
Now entering the store there are two aisles of e-nook counters with the sparkly devices propped up on their display stands and just below, a shelf of nook covers in an array of delicious colors. Initially it was a little off-putting.Then I figured; just open yourself to the idea. I’ve always liked the nook.It’s a fascinating device and to see it through the eyes of the very young was an additional eye-opener.
The children loved it. “Awesome” and “really awesome” were the first words they offered to describe it as they eyed and listened to the book version of the movie, Brave. I figured; poor kids, don’t really know the meaning of a book yet and now this thing is here.
But I remind myself that I’m a book-lover (and now believe I was born a book-lover) that I’m an avid reader and my adult children love books too, that millions of people are readers and they all have relationships with books they can hold made from paper made from trees.
The nook, no matter how appealing; quick, technologically intuitive, versatile and really the vampire of all libraries, most kids who want to make the classroom grade, will need to get friendly with the eBook (my preference is the nook) if they want to get ahead of the learning curve in school classroom. The speed and the authority of the device will soon be indispensable for young learners.
Yet,the feeling that comes to mind with the thought of a growing child just learning to read or now loving to read, who will turn on a electronic reading device and have someone else read aloud to them, is unsettling. Like, making a book’s image bigger or smaller just because you can or creating a virtual library that can’t actually be touched. Can it really?
Admittedly I guard the memory (like most parents do) of that one book that you read to your child, the hallmark book that taught them something because the words came from you and the book itself was in 3-dimensional shape in proportion to each your bodies as the book was being shared. My children’s first, The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillion is now a classic and looks great anytime on my coffee table. Love the smell of the pages too.
Also,what about the central function of physical human relating without anything between the person and a book, that thing being something that acts like a book, buzzes like a bee and hums hotter than a lukewarm pot of tea?
The brains that will be created as a consequence of this new way of books is yet to be seen. Hopefully in a decade or two, it will all prove something marvelous for the pursuit of humanity and the humanities and all books, in any form will have survived.
With all this said, e-Books have their role in today’s classroom and are probably here to stay and many more versions of it. As I watched the two students experience the nook and then their near equal awe at a real book originating from a real shelf, I was comforted.
The measure of it was the joy and old fashioned fun I had experiencing the books with them. One of the children actually reached a very far way up (almost double his arm length) to replace a book that he was very curious about. He even initiated a conversation about it– a clear and sincere inquiry.His visceral curiosity made the day.
For parents who’ll be shopping for a child’s first e-Book for leisure and or the classroom, undoubtedly the nook is a great choice. As learned from the nook salesperson at the store, it really does handle light in the hand, can be moved at any position for mobility, comes in a no-glare version for outdoor activities; like being at the beach or on a rock cliff and has a seemingly endless cornucopia of choices for the young, the not so young and the very old.
It has an audio feature too and perhaps leaves the impression that the world (especially for the young who are brave) is a lovely, transparent, engaging place were the world is available by just the touch of a finger. As a baby-boomer and despite my endless idealism, I’m still working on that idea. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the hybrid world of the new and not so new because it is new and exciting.