×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Do Children's E-Books Ruin Reading?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the different-nodes-in-the-brain dept.

Education 149

An anonymous reader writes "A fierce argument has begun over whether children are actually 'reading' new e-books or simply 'watching' them. As publishers pump increasing levels of interactivity into e-books, the New York Times and others argue that these highly-interactive, popular titles are ruining the purpose of reading. The NYT also worries that new e-book titles could distract kids from the tougher task of actually concentrating on literature: '[W]hat will become of the readers we've been: quiet, thoughtful, patient, abstracted, in a world where interactive can be too tempting to ignore?' Others, like Gizmodo, defend these new e-books, pointing at titles like Alice for the iPad, of which they blabber, 'For the first time in my life, I'm blown away by an interactive book design.' But, the NYT counters, 'What I really love [about traditional books] is their inertness. No matter how I shake Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, mushrooms don't tumble out of the upper margin, unlike the Alice for the iPad.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

149 comments

Non-issue (5, Insightful)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146034)

Interactive books have been around for decades - books with sliding tabs, sound effects when you press little buttons - those kinds of things. So I don't think e-books along the lines of that Alice one are a problem at all

What we should be concerned about is interactivity replacing the text rather than augmenting it. That's when it's a problem

The equation of truth (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146088)

Children + new technology = loss of childhood dreams

Don't we all know this from episode I?

Re:The equation of truth (5, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146194)

Children + new technology = loss of childhood dreams

That's an interesting point.

Consider this, when you see an image of a character, you're seeing what someone else's imagination came up with on how it looks. For example, how many of you see a movie adaptation of a book only to have them cast an actor that looks nothing like you imagined it?

With picture books or multimedia or whatever, the authors are replacing the child's imagination with their own. The child may have something better or something they like more or...I don't know.

I think the picture books or any multimedia system is replacing a child's imagination - it's not active.

That's why books to movies usually suck: our imaginations are usually better than what Hollywood can come up with - Starship Troopers for one.

I'm not creative enough on how to explain it further.

Re:The equation of truth (2, Interesting)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146294)

Sorry, can't resist. Using Starship Troopers as your example of book to movie adaptations is horrible. They're nothing alike, quite literally. It's more of a 'hey this movie resembles this book too much to avoid being sued, lets license it'. I read the book and hated the movie the first time I watched it. Once I realized they had absolutely nothing to do with each other aside from 'bugs in space' I found the movie to be much more enjoyable. Heinlein was brilliant and I can't wait for the day someone makes *real* movies based on his books. I'd love to watch several movies featuring Lazarus Long, although I think the prudes of the world would have an issue with him. ;)

Re:The equation of truth (4, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146562)

Paul Verhoeven said "We always called action movies fascist, so we thought it would be interesting to make a real fascist movie" and that "the point of this movie is that war makes fascists of us all". He said he read part of the book but hated it. Still the society in the movie has the same rules as the society in the book. The fact that he portays that society as fascist means the movie is a satire of the book, and also of the American idea that war can be won without a moral cost for the victors. This last one is a key thing to Verhoeven - films like Black Book show how corrupting war can be, even for the most morally justified side.

Of course if you have a sense of humour and an ability to see the flaws in plans for utopian society whilst still being able to appreciate the good ideas you can enjoy both. Like Marx Heinlein gets in some good jabs at democratic societies, and like Marx the alternative he suggests would be a nightmare if implemented.

Still it's interesting that people that believe in Heinlein's blueprint for a society seem to always be viscerally hostile to the movie that satirizes them. That makes me think the movie's point that the society described in the book is fascist has some truth to it. It seems very unlikely that the society that Heinlein describes would allow a movie like Starship Troopers to be made.

Actually Starship Troopers the movie seems scarily prescient of the War On Terror.

"Some say that western incursions into the Middle East have provoked the muslims and a live and let live policy would be preferrable"

"I'M FROM NEW YORK AND I SAY KILL 'EM ALL!"

Of course, luckily we lived in a good old fashioned democracy with universal suffrage. And democracies are quite happy with films that poke fun at them.

Re:The equation of truth (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146746)

"Like Marx Heinlein gets in some good jabs at democratic societies, and like Marx the alternative he suggests would be a nightmare if implemented."

Alright - first, allow me to point out that Heinlein's world in Starship Troopers represents a relatively stable world, AFTER they emerge from the real nighmare of anarchy.

But, that wasn't your point, nor is it mine.

I question whether that "nightmare" of Heinlein's world is any worse than what we have today. I mean, look at the United States. Unemployment is over 20% http://www.shadowstats.com/ [shadowstats.com] It seems that more people get welfare in various forms than actually work in this country. We see at least one state nearly paralyzed with the issue of illegal aliens. 1 in ten adult males are incarcerated and/or in the "criminal justice" system as a parolee, probation, or whatever.

The world in which 'Starship Troopers' is based actually looks pretty appealing to me.

But then, one man's meat is another man's poison, right? In Heinlein's world, I have already earned my citizenship, and I have the right to look down on the mere peons. In our world, here and now, there are any number of people who have more rights than I have, and my service to my country means just about squat.

Re:The equation of truth (3, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147118)

If you served in the US military, you swore an oath to uphold the US Constitution. Using force to disenfranchise non veterans - and that is the only way to do it - is not doing that.

Re:The equation of truth (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148252)

The US constitution? In Heinlein's world, the constitution doesn't exist. I'm moving, because I like the laws in his world better.

Re:The equation of truth (2, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147626)

It seems that more people get welfare in various forms than actually work in this country

That's a bit like saying "more people eat vegetables of various types than actually eat meat in this country"

That is to say, it's horseshit for more than a handful of reasons, and one doesn't even exclude the other to begin with (nor does each "form" exclude other forms, and percentages don't work like that)

Re:The equation of truth (1)

extrasolar (28341) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147804)

Like Medicaid. That's "welfare" according to most people, because if you can't afford to see a doctor then you're the scum of the earth and [i]deserve[/i] to be sick. Other forms of welfare I'm less leniant with, but come on! This discussion makes me sick. The grandparent poster sounds to me like someone who disguises "I deserve more" into "They deserve less." People are pissed off about their own financial problems love to take it out on poor people. Poor people know something about financial problems too, you know.

Re:The equation of truth (2, Insightful)

extrasolar (28341) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147750)

"In our world, here and now, there are any number of people who have more rights than I have, and my service to my country means just about squat."

Are you going to actually substantiate your outrage or are you going to give us the outrage? This is sounding like an OReilly rant more than anything else.

So, first, who has more rights than you do? And are you suggesting that your service to your country gives you more rights? What service? Military? I respect military men, but they don't get more rights than I do. Sorry. I have a thing.

Re:The equation of truth (2, Insightful)

BlackBloq (702158) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148060)

Unemployment is at 9.9% in the USA. Not your 20%.
In October 2009, 70.1 percent of 2009 high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities, a historical high.
ttp://www.bls.gov/
You should try reading more than science fiction. One state (Arizona) is paralyzed by moronic and unjust laws that the whole USA is freaking out over. If the united states government would have invested all your money into your country's natural disasters and tech and jobs instead of shooting Arabs in some dusty asshole of a desert you would be fine. USA needs less military assholes not more. And the reason service to your country is currently meaningless its because the war in IRAQ is meaningless. USA is currently less safe then before 911. Due to the thousands upon thousands of enemies made in the war. Now the enemies of the USA have a vendetta of blood from actual experience not just some religious fanatic fanning the flames of discontent. Can't we just have a beer and get along!?! Oh wait no booze allowed to the Muslims! I guess That's why they are so pissed off!

Re:The equation of truth (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148410)

Well, he's using a broader figure of unemployment than is the norm. Which might be fair, if we were to talk about the normal levels of that figure even when the economy is well.... the "less than 2% unemployment!" figures from the boom days still included a lot of people who were not in the labor force. How come the GP doesn't drag out those numbers to edify us? Then we can discuss the situation in an informed manner instead of a kneejerk one.

Re:The equation of truth (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148486)

Did you click the link? shadowstats.com

Unemployment is over 20%. Using the very same facts, figures, and formulas that were used for a couple of decades before Bill Clinton took office, the unemployment stands around 22%, right now.

First, Bill Clinton changed the formuals, then George Bush changed the formulas again. That 9.9% figure that you are quoting? Lies. Nothing but lies. And, if "official" unemployment figure goes over 10% again, the government will jiggle the formulas again. Care to take a bet? The public and the media won't tolerate unemployment rates over 10% - but they will tolerate lies that lead them to believe that it's below 10%.

Click the link, and check the history, check the facts and figures. Go ahead. Don't quote "official" figures to me - I know what they are, and I know why they are wrong.

Re:The equation of truth (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148192)

I question whether that "nightmare" of Heinlein's world is any worse than what we have today. I mean, look at the United States.

Yes, waging a genocidal war where billions die on behalf of a military dictatorship and which will likely end with the extinction of at least one intelligent species is far worse than having 20% unemployment rate, social welfare, and even *gasp* illegal immigrants. Any other dumb questions?

Dunno about the prison thing, thought.

Re:The equation of truth (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146324)

For example, how many of you see a movie adaptation of a book only to have them cast an actor that looks nothing like you imagined it?

Like I imagined it? Never mind that. Let's complain about casting someone who is nothing like the author imagined. E.g.:

Hermione_Granger [wikipedia.org] vs. Emma Watson [wikipedia.org] .

It's been a very long while since I read the first Harry Potter book, but I had the distinct impression that Rowling thought of Hermione as very ordinary-looking, perhaps even a bit ugly, at least here-and-there.

Re:The equation of truth (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146588)

Hermione Granger is a Author Avatar [tvtropes.org] . So it's quite OK for her to be as attractive as JK Rowling is rather than as attractive as JK Rowling thinks she is.

Re:The equation of truth (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148042)

With picture books or multimedia or whatever, the authors are replacing the child's imagination with their own. The child may have something better or something they like more or...I don't know.

Of course, by the exact same logic, a book is replacing stories and characters the child comes up himself with something the author came up with.

Re:Non-issue (1)

mad_minstrel (943049) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146300)

I wouldn't worry. In modern society, every time you open your eyes, there's a very strong chance you'll see some text somewhere, be it an advertisement, a book cover, some text on a screen, your cell phone. There's so much text around that children haven't the slightest chance of not learning how to read unless they have some kind of rare medical condition that prevents them. Of course I'm not talking about poor children in Africa here - I'm sure the iPad version of Alice is not much of a problem for them. And as far as interactivity replacing text is concerned, I wouldn't worry about that either - it's just an evolution of the medium. If interactivity is readily available and easy to implement, there's no reason authors shouldn't embrace it to enhance their works. If they, or their publishers misuse it, I'm certain the readers will set them straight with their wallets.

Re:Non-issue (3, Insightful)

illumnatLA (820383) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146302)

I think, like TV, it's all about how the interactive books are used. If the interactive books are used primarily as a babysitter that's a problem.

However, if the parent is interacting with their child while their child is interacting with the book, it's not really a problem. There's much more going on from a learning standpoint than just learning the words when a parent and a child read together. The social interaction is the important part.

But... if the 'interactive book' is constantly used as a way for the parents to not have to interact with their child, it will breed the same bunch of moronic mouthbreathers as children who were brought up in front of the TV with little interaction from their parents. (Ok... that's a bit strong, but you know what I mean!) ;-)

It seems to me that people often forget there's more to education than just memorizing facts and figures. The social aspect is equally important.

Re:Non-issue (5, Funny)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146308)

Books for wizard kids (Harry Potter) have things that speak and move for themselves and the kids seem to do just fine.

Re:Non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146492)

If they replace text, don't they just become games/videos?

Re:Non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146652)

Interactive books have been around for decades - books with sliding tabs, sound effects when you press little buttons - those kinds of things. So I don't think e-books along the lines of that Alice one are a problem at all

What we should be concerned about is interactivity replacing the text rather than augmenting it. That's when it's a problem

DavidR1991 (1047748) is right when he stated that 'What we should be concerned about is interactivity replacing the text rather than augmenting it. That's when it's a problem'. This is happening at the college level too & if you think it isn't a potential problem, I have already seen that it could become one.

I want Textadventures! (3, Insightful)

SlothDead (1251206) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146038)

Why are there no textadventures/"choose your own adventure"-books for the kindle or any other ereader?

Also, these interactive kiddie books might lead to the kindle 3 being like this: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1910868 [collegehumor.com]

Re:I want Textadventures! (1)

SlothDead (1251206) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146412)

How well do those work? Do they automatically keep track of what items you carry and all that stuff?

Re:I want Textadventures! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146522)

That question doesn't make sense for "Choose Your Own Adventure (tm)" books - the books never made you keep track of stuff like that. There were/are no stats or items to collect or anything like that - just "if you do X turn to pay XX, if you do Y turn to page ZZ" choice points. They're dead simple - you can do them all as static hypertext pages and not have a problem.

More complicated ones came later - like the "Fighting Fantasy" or "Lone Wolf" series - where you generated stats like in an RPG and had to keep track of inventory and odd little notes that affected the choices you could make. Those would probably need at least some kind of notepad app to scribble on while you're playing or would need to keep track of things internally for you. But the original CYOA books don't need anything like that.

Re:I want Textadventures! (1)

R4nneko (1194727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146470)

There is also at the least the Fighting Fantasy series on the iPhone which are recreations of the old books.

You'll have to make your own maps, but the game keeps track of your inventory and stats.

Re:I want Textadventures! (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147040)

Now, wait a second. Those old CYOA books were about the cheesiest ripoffs that I can remember from my teen years. I don't think I ever picked one up that was really worth a dollar. What, ten, fifteen minutes amusement? If you start over, you get another five minutes. And, Amazon wants 5 bucks and more? For the ELECTRONIC version? Phhht.

Who said, "There's a sucker born every minute"?

Remember UFO 54-40 had no linear solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32147620)

If you've forgotten, UFO 54-40 had no linear solution. The book could not be solved by turning from one section to another. I don't know how this would translate to a digital format.

Eh? (2, Informative)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146064)

I can only speak for myself, but if you want to read a text, you read it? Any child should intuitively turn the illustrations off, or simply ignore them if they are distracting. Talking about the "pondering abstracted" reader or the "inertness" of books is just silly romanticism, text is text. And as a sidenote, I have ADD; I know the subject of distraction fairly well.

Re:Eh? (1)

Simulant (528590) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146372)

Any child should intuitively turn the illustrations off, or simply ignore them if they are distracting.

You obviously don't hang out with young children much.

Re:Eh? (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146450)

I remember being a young child. But on the other hand, I read a *lot* from the age of five and upwards, so my experiences might not be valid for all children.

Re:Eh? (2, Interesting)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146536)

While I agree that the submitter was being a bit romantic in his depiction of the reader, you shouldn't dismiss his ideas simply because of it. One of my favorite elements of reading static text without any added illustrations is you get to use your imagination to fill in the blanks! TV basically just hands you all of the artwork and scenery but when you read, all you get is the jist from the author and it's up to you to weave those descriptions together with your imagination into something.

Adding all of these interactive elements robs children of the process of creating these images themselves. when they hear about XYZ in the story they willl just imagine the depictions that popped out of the margins in page 2 instead of their own mental image based on the description.

To me, this has always been one of the greatest strengths of literature and I would hate to see the importance of this cast aside in favor of profits/"oh look shiney shiney" mentality.

Re:Eh? (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146916)

I couldn't read for a number of years because books are not very well suited to the purposes of actual reading. Between the migraines and difficulty tracking lines on the page, it was pretty much a non-starter. At least with electronic books of various sorts there's ways around that. Whether by changing the spacing to be more appropriate or by making the portion of text stand out more as the page progresses automatically. Perhaps in the future even tracking eye movement to keep things in sync.

There's always been and always will be a small minority of literature romanticists that insist that the way it was done was perfect, when in fact it was badly broken for a sizable portion of the populace and mostly served to create an elite. It's sort of like how somehow it's terrible to have books on tape, because you're being deprived of the serious discomfort of having to hold a book in an awkward position and risk the neck damage that encourages.

My 3 month old... (3, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146080)

I don't consider myself a parent with any real life experience, being that I have only been one for 3 months, but I have some observations on how my son interacts with certain physical items in his new world:

1. He is not permitted to watch TV.
2. We read books to him a lot.
3. He listens to a lot of music tailored towards children (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIueuNdB2oM)

While he has some attention for books, especially ones where my mother recorded herself reading them and we play it for him while he listens, he has an amazing attention span for my iPhone or the TV. He will go out of his way to crane his neck around to look at the TV if it happens to be on (we don't watch much TV) or physically move himself to look at the TV if he is in a device which allows for him to do that.

I'm guessing that either he's fucking weird (certainly possible considering his parents) or all children love to watch shit. While he gets excited when I come home from work, it's nothing like he gets when he's watching my parents on Google Video Chat. If he's going to feel excited via a particular medium then I say I'm all for it--especially if it helps one particular child learn better than others.

Re:My 3 month old... (4, Insightful)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146116)

He's three months old.

Of course the TV's interesting, it's making full of sounds, colours and moving stuff.

Just buy (or make) him a Hanging Mobile.

Re:My 3 month old... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146238)

Ooooh, someone telling me what my son should enjoy based on their own experiences or readings. Awesome. Never had that happen before even when they're wrong. Thanks!

Get a foreign language channel with cartoons... (4, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146256)

Get a foreign language channel with cartoons. Or two. Or three. Languages, that is. Probably at least as many channels as well.

My cousin was speaking English almost as good as her native language (Bosnian/Serbian) by the time she was 5-6 years old from all the Cartoon Network she watched.
Basically, she was speaking a foreign language before she learned to read or write.
She is now studying to be a professor of English.

Also, when your kid starts to read, don't shun the comics in favor of books.
If possible, get him some comics in the foreign language he is picking up from the cartoons.
Amazon has international sites, holding books in the local language. But there are also online communities that scan comics. Even those in "foreign" languages.

Re:Get a foreign language channel with cartoons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32147526)

"My cousin was speaking English almost as good as her native language"

"My cousin was speaking English almost as WELL as her native language"

See the difference?

Re:Get a foreign language channel with cartoons... (1)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148468)

All good advice.

Cartoons and comics are designed for kids: simplify the unimportant, expose the cool ideas. They are going to be learning more from a Japanese or Spanish cartoon than from their father reading them a "good" book. My bi-lingual 5 year old still asks to watch Hikaru No Go at times.

Hell, my oldest kid taught herself to read in a few months from Calvin & Hobbes: once she wanted to know what the joke was, she went from "reading is hard" to "reading is easy" is about 5 hours.

Re:My 3 month old... (1)

Sheen (1180801) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146356)

So he gets more excited when he sees two people inside a box! With blinking lights and weird sounds coming from it, then when you enter a door, like everybody else does....

Re:My 3 month old... (2, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146732)

I'm guessing that either he's fucking weird (certainly possible considering his parents) or all children love to watch shit. While he gets excited when I come home from work, it's nothing like he gets when he's watching my parents on Google Video Chat. If he's going to feel excited via a particular medium then I say I'm all for it--especially if it helps one particular child learn better than others.

He's not weird. Or no weirder than normal.

He likes to look at things, check. He's still learning to see, so any NEW thing will be interesting to him.

He's more interested in watching your parents on GVC, check. You're one of the two most important things in his universe. But you're old news compared to this little picture that talks and looks like Granma and Grampa. Though frankly he'd be just as interested in total strangers - he's after NEW.

The only problem with TV will come when you decide to use it as a babysitter. At that point, it becomes bad. Until then, it's just more novelty for the wee lad.

While he has some attention for books, especially ones where my mother recorded herself reading them and we play it for him while he listens

He's too young for books, other than as more NEW stuff.

That said, mother reading to him is better than mother recording things for him to listen to later.

Starting in about two years, you'll have your chance to start him on a lifetime of reading. There's pretty much one simple way to do that - read. Not necessarily to him, though that certainly helps. But if he sees you and his mother sitting down to an evening of reading most every night, he'll want to do it too. And once he starts, he'll never stop....

Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (3, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146086)

Same way picture books [wikipedia.org] have been ruining reading these last couple of centuries.

Re:Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (2, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146132)

And lets not forget the Gutenberg Bible [cornell.edu] , with all those fluffy birds and decorations, who's supposed to concentrate on reading the text?

If one day all books come in highly interactive forms and every child has an iPad, I might start to worry, but at the moment almost no child has an iPad and fully interactive books are a rarity compared to normal books.

Re:Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146458)

And lets not forget the Gutenberg Bible [cornell.edu] , with all those fluffy birds and decorations, who's supposed to concentrate on reading the text?

Literacy was declining long before moveable type. How can you expect people to concentrate on their prayers when they get distracted by flashy illuminations http://www.christusrex.org/www2/berry/ [christusrex.org] some of them quite lurid http://www.christusrex.org/www2/berry/DB-f25v-d2l.jpg [christusrex.org] ?

Re:Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (1)

quall (1441799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146288)

Yah, just like computers have been ruining writing these past couple of decades. Children can barely write cursive if at all. Then one could argue its usefulness. Schools originally taught it as a faster way to write. Also so that children could read useful material that is only written in cursive. Computers have eliminated the need for both of those arguments. It is much easier to type and cursive material has been rewritten in typed-text. Cursive is a depreciated skill. Just like novels inspire imagination and creativity, their usefulness is dimming. Facebook, twitter, yourtube, etc.. These are all just mediums of expression and creativity, which strive imagination. The only difference is that anyone can produce it for the world, not just established writers. No need to write a book to express yourself anymore, and it is far more interesting to see real experiences than it is to read a fake one that only exists on paper. What is wrong with that? Devices like the Kindle and iPad aren't ruining reading. They are eliminating the purpose of reading for recreation. People still read all the time. People still read news and educational material. People still develop their reading skills. New age devices aren't ruining the purpose of reading. We just don't need them to entertain us anymore. That is what these interactive reading devices do. Besides, as far as picture books, go, I don't know the last time I saw a 3 year old read a 400 page novel. Those picture books aren't designed for adults. They are designed for children who have not fully developed reading skills and imaginative thought processes yet.

Re:Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146694)

Yah, just like computers have been ruining writing these past couple of decades.

Tell me about it. Some people don't even know what paragraphs are anymore.

Re:Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (2, Informative)

quall (1441799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147336)

If that was a pun at my post then you should know that this site formatted it that way. It was full of paragraphs when I typed it out.

Re:Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32148256)

Should have selected Plain Old Text rather than HTML.

You can set your default text layout in your preferences.

Re:Ruining the purpose of reading? ABSOLUTELY! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148864)

I'm all for picturebooks, popupbooks, e-readers, but in the particular Alice book it's really annoying that things move in the background even if I don't want them to. It's a cheap gimmick without function. (However the artwork is really nice.)

Hehe... Shrooms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146120)

Feed your head

Etude & Cat In The Hat (3, Interesting)

buckhead_buddy (186384) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146156)

I see it similar to the Etude music player on the iPhone. It's a MIDI player that highlights the notes on the sheet music and on a simulation of a piano keyboard as the music is being played.

The Cat in the Hat eBook has several modes, one of which highlights the text as a voice reads the words. Another of which lets the kid touch something in the drawing, says the word and highlights it in the text (if it's in the passage on that page).

Neither replaces an audio performance (like an iTunes song or an audio book), and neither of which replace the physical static medium (like a piece of sheet music or a book), but both make a nice interactive presentation to help the viewer's brain make the connection of these very different sensations.

They're just a tool. (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146180)

Tools can be used badly. That's nothing new either. You can use a TV to watch amazing documentaries, or crappy reality TV and "talk" shows like Jerry Springer. Kids can use it to watch garbage, or educational programming.

Interactive books are no different. They can be inert. They can distract from reading, or they can aid the reading process. There are fundamental differences between paper books and ebooks but blaming the format for poor execution is just weak. Since they can be more complex it becomes harder to differentiate, but that's what you have to do as a consumer....and there's nothing like word of mouth in mothers groups and in the school yard to help in that area.

A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (3, Interesting)

at.drinian (1180281) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146224)

Anyone who thinks that interactive books can't be a force for good needs to go read Neal Stephenson.

Re:A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32148674)

I love Diamond Age dearly, and find the technology on display therein to be inspiring, but it's important to remember that one of the central conclusions of that book was to reinforce the significance of having a real human's love behind and within all of the technology we use to educate children. The other girls who received primers were denied the direct influence and encouragement of a loving parent to guide their use of the primer technology and their development suffered as a result.

It'll be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146246)

It'll be fine. Give the kids what they want.

When I was a kid I wanted comics, what I got instead, because it was "educational" was a weekly picture paper, glossy, with pictures with text underneath, instead of speach bubbles in the pictures. The text was in rhyme in some cases. I hate rhyming poetry to this day.

Diamond age (2, Interesting)

toxygen01 (901511) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146248)

My guess is we're approaching Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age "A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer", at least in terms of technology.
The Primer also reacts to its owners' environment and teaches them what they need to know to survive and grow
some more info on his ideas about "mediatrons" as he calls them: http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=214 [technovelgy.com]

e-ink, e-paper, ipad, not only technology changes, but the way people are educated too. now that they will have interactive textbooks, studying is not only going to be faster, but even more fun. anything from physics, chemistry, biology is going to be not only described, but shown. encarta of size of your palm. fantastic.

indeed, I think some books will be better off left as they are now. the main reason behind this is imagination and fantasy of reader. if you are shown everything, then there is barely some space for you imagination to fire up. it might be fun to roll and twist your ipad, but it might be even funnier to have all those characters shaped up by your imagination instead of imagination of the artist who worked on it. but this applies to less extent than the former case with textbooks. i guess it's great technology to have in overall.

Re:Diamond age (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146312)

Just wait until those Chinese counterfeiters get a hold of the plans and start mass-producing iPads for the Chinese kids. Before you know it, there'll be an invasion of iPad-raised teenage Chinese girls on our shores. And I, for one, will welcome them.

Re:Diamond age (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32147072)

-1? Sounds like a mod isn't familiar with The Diamond Age.

Re:Diamond age (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32147174)

yep, looks like so. anyway, it is believed the ruling nation in the world changes every 60 or so years. maybe it's china's (girls') turn now

Re:Diamond age (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146316)

No, I don't think it is more fun. I think kids are attracted to interaction, pictures in primary colors, and noises because interaction, pictures in primary colors, and noises is less effort for the reward than imagining it: more fun.
I think that what's easiest and most fun isn't what children should have. Imagining things that aren't in front of them is a critical skill, as are reading and understanding a description without an accompanying pictures.

For an analogy, it's easier to smoke pot for a bit of satisfaction than to clean up your house for the same reward, which is why so many pot smokers have messy houses. But cleaning up one's house for that bit of satisfaction is healthier.

Only a matter of time (2, Funny)

qpawn (1507885) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146252)

Next thing you know, they'll start making movies out of these books. Gasp!

Seriously (3, Insightful)

celibate for life (1639541) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146268)

I don't know why or how this trend started: to consider human beings (specially children) so delicate and fragile that every minor thing has the potential to ruin someone's mind forever. Traditional reading won't get outdated because it's a very efficient way to get high amounts of information in non-sequential order. So even if your children like to play with animated bleep-bloop books, they will eventually learn to read real books because they will need to. Necessity has been helping individuals and the entire species accomplish things since the dawn of time.

What did we do before we had reading? (2, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146326)

Before humans invented written text, we learned by watching and listening. That's what we are programmed to do - watch and listen. Hell, how do we learn to speak? We listen to other people do it, and watch their lips move, and then mimic that as we listen to ourselves try to reproduce those sounds.

In many respects, interactive audio/visual methods are a more natural way for humans to learn than reading text.

A bit premature no? (2, Insightful)

Simulant (528590) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146348)

Or do enough kids have iPads now to make this a real concern? (who the hell buys their still learning to read kid an iPad anyway?)

Based on my own experience, I'd say that audio books (and of course TV) are more of a problem. My daughter has been surrounded by books and read to for her entire 8 years yet she is falling behind in reading. (though she's ahead in comprehension or vocabulary/) She'd prefer to listen to a book than read it herself and we've, regrettably, made this too easy for her to do. Much like TV (which she doesn't watch much of at home.... only on weekends and never live TV with commercials), I now find myself in the position of having to limit her intake of audio books from the library in a bid to motivate her to actually read for herself. I would think that interactive books, as long as they don't read the entire text, are an improvement over the totally passive experience of listening/watching.

Good for illiterate parents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146352)

We read books to our daughter every night, and with a couple of cool videos (The Alphabet Factory and Word Factory) she's learning to read since she was 3 1/2. I wonder how inner-city kids with crappy schools and illiterate parents will ever learn to read. I've been thinking that e-books that can read to them and highlight words and such would be perfect for that case. It may not be ideal, but in an environment where there is little other way to learn, it might just be the best thing ever.

But that doesn't make it great for everyone ;-)

I thought reading was about developing imagination (3, Interesting)

abhikhurana (325468) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146362)

Call me old fashioned but one of the reasons I have always enjoyed reading traditional books is because the author only drops the hints at what the world in the book looks like but I actually paint the complete picture. This is the same reason why most movies based on books don't do well, because it is extremely difficult to compete with what we imagined that world to be in the detail and besides the imaginary world is individual to each reader. No two worlds probably look the same.

Unfortunately, the more we get into the interactive books which try to replace the written word with pictures (or even the ones which try to augment it), the more would we be limiting our imagination and seeing it from someone else's eyes, which almost certainly would result in less "different" people in the world. Most of us on slashdot are evolutionists and we do appreciate that it is this difference which results in our species evolving. Hell, it could be that Da Vinci etc. probably started looking at flying because they had heard or read fairy tales where humans flew, which then one day was realised by incremental advance in science. So in some ways, we would be limiting our potential by relying more on the visual medium rather than imagining the world.

Re:I thought reading was about developing imaginat (1)

potpie (706881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146618)

Consider how long children's books have been heavily illustrated. When I was little I won a "reading award" in my first grade classroom because I always had out this science book. Truth is I was just looking at the pictures and reading the captions. Nevertheless I obviously did learn to read, and I can assure you that seeing pictures as a child ruined my imagination in no way. Think of the vast amounts of data we are presented with every day. There are images, written words, music, speech, on advertisements, street signs, in movies, on television, in books, in classrooms, at home... If having one possibility illustrated (in a broader sense) before you actually stifled human creativity, there would be far fewer inventors, artists, and writers. And if you want proof you can search for "fanfic" and see thousands of young adults (perhaps older adults?) and children writing stories based on their favorite movies and television shows and books, simply because they want to apply their own creativity to the fiction. I found one story, obviously written by a young child, which sought to give a back-story for how pokemon evolved out of present-day animals.

In short, I think the least of your worries should be any new media constraining the imagination.

Big surprise. (4, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146486)

Yes, folks, idiotic blather about how to raise a genius has come to the iPad. Ask people who have grown kids: they are who they are. There is astonishingly little you can do to change them. A rich environment beats a poor one, and you shouldn't starve or beat your children. Aside from that, just enjoy knowing them.

At least they're reading something (3, Insightful)

mingsy (1807664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146506)

E-books are just a tool to engage those students who would otherwise not read. Start worrying when the kids aren't reading at all.

Weiner-dudes keep kids from readinmg ? (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146542)

Well yes computerized weiner-dues aka byte-boyz DO prevent children from learning ... "Here punk" they shout "Waste yo time cuzin. Tappa typpa ... tappatappatappa ...". Lots of typing & gaming & viewing and mousing but, for the sprouts no reading no writing no maths ... An entire generation grows-up stuupid, socially stunted, imaginatively impaired & feckin-A fucked up thanks to byte-boyz. Keep up the culturally destructive work byte-boyz.

Who said anything about reading? (2, Insightful)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146548)

If you want a kid to read, you'll have to figure out the Dr.Suess first

Or just get the deluxe ebooks that are like popping "Shreck II" DVD on the nursery color TV. The nanny cam can read the smelly midget an ebook. After that, reading won't matter as much anymore. .

The Usual (1)

potpie (706881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146556)

Thinkofthechildren! Technology improves illustrations --> Entire generation rendered illiterate! Soon they'll invent an entire GENRE of new media with moving pictures and sound and no need to read at all! And what will happen then!?

Most complainers don't know the bookstore/library (1)

gig (78408) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146560)

The only problem would be a lack of fidelity, i.e. shitty gray screens, or a like of diversity, i.e. not having access to the whole bookstore or library.

Alice for iPad is a step in the right direction. Books for kids that age are mostly picture books.

And iPad itself can represent the full-fidelity of all of the paper books. And electronic books can also enable kids to get access to more books. Not just kids in rich countries.

We spend too much time talking about this shit and not enough time building. Kudos to Apple for creating the first useful electronic reader. The fact that they already outsold all the others is great news for publishing.

Re:Most complainers don't know the bookstore/libra (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148840)

I saw the demo of the Alice book for iPad, and I think it's very annoying that things move/start to vibrate/fall off when you hold it in a slightly different angle. If I wanted to read it, I surely would turn off the interactive features. Of course it doesn't mean that all interactivity is necessarily bad.

Zork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32146570)

I personally learned to read by playing Zork on an old Commodore 64, now I am reading works by classic writers like Alexander Dumas, and Shakespeare and Issac Asimov and so many others. The point of reading is the usefulness of it, but you wont learn to do it unless there is something enjoyable about it. Why do we care if a kid learns to read by playing games or by reading classics as long as they learn. Eventually it becomes second nature and for so many of us it becomes something so very much more. I say all the power to the companies that come up with ways to get kids reading because lets face it, these days that is not a simple task with gui's and movies and tv and all these pictures and things.

Parenting crap again (2, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146602)

It's always the same "This is slowly killing my child / making them stupid, I want it banned." or something along those lines... just stop your kids doing it. Especially, in this case, because it would be reliant on an enormously expensive piece of hardware in order to operate - they are not going to be sneaking into the bookshops on the way home and picking up an eBook reader illicitly to stop you knowing. If you have doubts about it, stop them doing it and do, I don't know, parent-y things like... erm... encouraging them to read books, praising them when they learn a new word, switching OFF the TV when they've had too much (and no, TV itself isn't bad - don't bring up children who when they hit adulthood are *DYING* to watch TV to see what all their friends are talking about - banning TV outright is just delaying their inevitable obsession with the "forbidden") and saying No to them.

My child is 18 months. She *does* get transfixed to the television when her favourite program is on. That's why she gets a few hours a week and that's that. Then we switch it off and she doesn't burst into tears because she's not addicted to it. If you have a long car journey, you take two or three books with you - she will spend the *entire* trip engrossed in them, looking at every page, pointing out all the objects that she knows, learning the words for the ones she doesn't and she won't feel "deprived" or "bored" just because she only has books. When she learns to read, though, a habit of deliberately *choosing* a book to take out on a trip with her (as she currently does) will make the transition all that much easier.

Reading, picture books, comics, TV, radio, interactive software, things scrawled in crayon on the back of scrap paper, they are all just media. If you use them correctly, and proportionally, they all have a role to play in a child's development. If you don't, and just let the kid have completely free choice, of course they will ALWAYS choose the thing that's least effort - TV or some book that "reads to them" so they don't have to do this complicated pattern-recognition thing that dad wants them to do. That's fine occasionally and, yes, occasionally you do have to let them just be kids and have a day off of making them all the "horrible" stuff like learning to read, or tidying their room and so those times they can do things like interactive books and software or just veg out in front of the TV (we all do it, in moderation for the majority of us, so we can't be martyrs here and claim to be perfect and always do everything that we would want our children to see us do).

Let them have a life, and stop bloody micro-managing their exposure to the world. So long as they are doing the stuff you want them to do elsewhere, let them have their time off. To a child, learning to read is hard work on an enormously difficult but boring task, so after they've had a few hours of doing that give them some time off with whatever they want to do that's not hurting anyone else - video games (the age for violent ones is up to the individual parents, but you will not *turn* them into mass-murderers once they have acquired a sense of right and wrong), building Lego castles, scribbling on bits of paper, making a frame for the TV with tinsel and glue (with your permission), stamping on ants in the garden, whatever, it doesn't really matter. That's their time off, the same way that even university students, or 80-hour-week workers have time off. Just make sure that if you're worried they aren't reading enough, that you give them that TOO, at some other time, and by *your* rules.

Re:Parenting crap again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32147578)

>To a child, learning to read is hard work on an enormously difficult but boring task

I disagree, strongly.

Learning to read is not that difficult, and it is certainly NOT a boring task ! On the opposite, it opens the door to so many things. Think about it: how many activities depend on reading (if at a basic level only)? Video games, for instance, how do you play if you can't read? Most games require some reading skills, except pure action ones (maybe).

Being able to read is very empowering. Suddenly books, comics, magazines, boardgames, video games, internet, SMS (oh noes!) become accessible. It is liberating. A whole world opens to you.

Then, there is also the removal of a big dependency on adults, which is also invaluable in my opinion. This is one of a kid's first steps toward adulthood...

I say yes.... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146768)

My cousin has one of those Leapfrog Tag [leapfrog.com] books. These are the ones in which you have a "pen" which can touch various objects on the pages and produce a sound. It's most often demonstrated as having the "pen" read the words that the child touches. However, the child can often touch animals, cars, trains etc etc and have the corresponding sounds. Out of two children, I have never seen them use the book the way that it is intended, they just touch the pictures repeatedly for the sounds. If I want them to read the book for the words, then you have to take away the pen and use the book as a traditional book.

Besides it's a waste of batteries. IMHO, it's just another way to "outsource parenting." People already outsource the babysitter to TV.

Also these books are damn expensive compared to used books, the ones libraries give away for a $.25 or ones from your friends whose kids have outgrown them.

Ideas On Raising Children (1)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 3 years ago | (#32146824)

Every adult (including parents and non-parents) seems to have lots of opinions on how best to raise children.

Here are mine:

1) Love them

a) Do not harm them

2) Protect them

Everything else is open to interpretation. If you are a parent, teacher, or someone else who has regular contact with children, follow those guidelines and the kids will will mostly be fine (you can't protect them from every danger, nor should you try) - and remember at some point they start making their own choices.

On the subject of interactive books: this was going to happen sooner or later. Still, there should come a time in a person's maturation when reading without aid of images is not only possible but enjoyable.

No surprise (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147000)

The "readers we've been: quiet, thoughtful, patient, abstracted" have always been a small minority, but we think everybody should be like us. The ones who want to read will read. Those who don't will get distracted by the shiny. Just like our generation, the generation before us, the generation before that...

It's like complaining about pop-up books! (1)

motorcyclemaintain (1674658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147388)

Was there the same outcry when pop-up books were introduced?

Having downloaded Alice for the iPad, it looks more like the app has revitalised Lewis Carroll's work, and made it fresh and interesting for a new audience -- It's certainly a more sensitive and respectful adaptation than the Tim Burton movie.

Obviously there needs to be a balance between text and images, but I can see parents reading this Alice app to their kids, with the physics-simulations being an attractive bonus to keep them entertained. Now that books have to compete with DVDs, TV and the internet, what's wrong with a little novelty here and there to coax kids into engaging with the written word?

Far from "ruining" reading, it looks more like Alice for the iPad is the first book app I've downloaded that actually makes sense on the iPad. Right, I'm off to play with the Caterpillar some more.

Aristotle hated books (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147576)

Aristotle thought books--reading--would be the end of civilization. All civilized folks (like himself) memorized long poems instead.

Same old same old. Just recently, folks said the web was going to be the end of reading and writing even tho the 'billions of web pages" were all written by people and read by others. They don't spend any time thinking, they just likie to complain, kind of like a Tea Partier drinking the Mad Hatter's koolaid.

Teen Books destroy reading. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32147676)

Kids books are fine. No kids can pick up LOTR and get anything from it. I used to read kids books all the time. Went from dr seuss to goosebumps.Soon as Shakespeare came along. I lost all interest in reading. Shakespeare is terrible; It's over analysed and attributed far too much to it. Shakespeare had all of 4 years of school or so. It couldnt possibly have been better schooling then our current 15year or so modern schooling. Either Shakespeare has none of the claimed things in it, or it wasnt written by Shakespeare. Regardless, Shakespeare is teribble. It wasnt until Catcher in the Rye in grade 12 that I actually liked reading again.

Re:Teen Books destroy reading. (1)

RealRav (607677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147974)

You missed the point of Shakespeare being taught in High School. The difficulty of reading Shakespeare is the point. By the time you reach High School you should already be a pretty proficient reader, but few have learned the skills necessary to trudge through something more difficult to read and gain anything useful from it. This is a very useful skill later in life. Ever read a tech manual?

The medium dictates the art (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32147904)

Years ago I took a course from Dr. Thorburg at MIT, the central thesis of which was that each medium has its limitations. You can criticize the artist, but you can't say that a painter is no good because his painting are not three dimensional. You can't say that television is no good just because it appears in a small window and programs are usually limited to an hour or so.

TV is not stage, sculpture is not painting, etc. In this case, interactive ebooks will be created within the limitations of the ebook format just as print books are created within their physical limitations.

What happened to reading? (2, Funny)

AnAdventurer (1548515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148008)

If I want interactive "reading", I'll use the internet and post a inflammatory remark at slashdot.

I don't get this book hysteria... (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148176)

Repeat after me:

TV BAD
BOOK GOOD
COMPUTER BAD
EBOOK BAD

Anyone else notice a problem here? Judging an entire tool with a simplistic value judgment. A book involves learning to read necessarily, while an ebook, computer, or tv are more versatile tools. Sure you can watch trashy TV or play video games (at least a trashy novel is still helping hone reading skills), but you can also watch documentaries or shows that actually involve thinking. A good deal of the non-work time I'm on a computer is reading various news sites and Wikipedia to learn more about the world, just as I used to read an encyclopedia when I was younger.

I laugh even harder at parents who come up with some half baked notion of "screen time", lumping TV and computers in the same category because they both have screens. Unless you're trying to push the point that kids should be outdoors playing instead (which I won't dispute, and in which case you should include books as well), you just come across as an ignorant luddite.

So seriously. Instead of following the hysteria that your children might possibly not grow up exactly like your generation with all its good and bad traits, step back for a moment and look at the way society is going.

Also installing software that promises to parent your children for you is a great way to teach them hacking skills.

Inflammatory Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32148194)

Accusing Gizmodo of 'blabbering'? Take that shit back to your blog, AC.

photons (1)

cadience (770683) | more than 3 years ago | (#32148502)

It's all photons - get over it. Only the observer knows how what is being shown is being processed.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...