Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kindle and kids’ books

With all the buzz over Amazon’s Kindle 2, and all the handwringing and fist-pumping over the possibility that ebook readers will replace paper-and-binding books, no one has given any thought to children’s books and whether hand-held devices will appeal to kids.

The last two days my son Saul, six next week, has carried The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The House at Pooh Corner to school. He can read neither book. Both, however, are fine editions—small octavo volumes with sewn signatures, clear ten-point type with one-point leading, nice thick paper. Saul likes the feel of them in his hands. It is hard to imagine his carrying a Kindle with the same pride.

And what about pop-up and lift-the-flap books? My two-year-old son Isaac can’t get enough of them. He takes them to bed, and in the morning he “reads” them quietly to himself until his father comes to lift him out of the crib. For Isaac, lifting the flaps is what constitutes “reading.” And again it is hard to imagine his taking a similar delight in a Kindle, even if Amazon could solve the technical problem of how to lift the flap on an electronic text.

I am only thinking out loud. It seems likely, though, that Saul and Isaac are forming their book-handling habits at an age before they are capable of reading. A Kindle is not going to change such habits; at best it will assist them. Don’t ebook readers appeal only to those, in other words, who are already hooked on books?


Becca said...

Even though I think children may miss out on the "touch and feel" of an actual book, I think there are benefits of the Kindle reader for kids. Wit the Text to Speech feature, kids can follow along and hear the story (one of the best ways to learn new vocabulary) and increase their reading comprehension at the same time. Check out these children's books for Kindle (or Iphone or Kindle for PC).