Ereaders and ebooks seems to have created one of the biggest reading divides seen in a long time (that and age banding!).
For some they are the future, the way reading is heading and the only way that books can be accessed.
For others they are a mere annoyance getting in the way of the feel, smell touch and embrace of a real book.
I suppose for me I come down in the middle somewhere. I love books, the physical object as much as I enjoy reading. I recently got a copy of S a book by J J Abrahms. One of the most amazing books I’ve ever touched and experienced and it is just that an experience. If you’ve not seen it I suggest you go out and purchase a copy or find one just to marvel at the craftsmanship of the book.
Reading to me is a very special process. It’s not just about recognising symbols on a page that translate in my mind to activities and feelings. I give as much, put as much in to a book when I’m reading it than when the author wrote it. We have both poured something of ourselves, maybe a part of our souls (if you believe in that) into the books. I’ve given the book my time, patience, attention, and all the things that have made me up to the point of engaging in the text: experiences; knowledge; feelings and so the book becomes a physical embodiment of that. When I next see/touch that book I remember where, when, how I read it and who I was at that time. It becomes the physical embodiment of a memory, probably why I find getting rid of books hard.
However, for all the enjoyment that a real, physical book gives me I still own an edevice and regularly read books on it. Although I don’t have that attachment with the books on it, it feels colder, more impersonal and clinical reading I do understand the power that these devices have especially for the weaker, more disillusioned readers amongst us.
Over the last four years we’ve doing some very special things in our library. From the way we track reading and it’s impact on students to the way we integrate a students reading into the curriculum providing strategies for the teachers we’re always looking for ways to have a positive impact through reading.
One of our biggest successes are the interventions we run for the weakest readers. One of these programmes in particular utilises and takes advantage of edevices and ebooks. It is a ten week programme where students basically sit in the library and read on these devices for just 1 hour a week, 10 hours over the course of the programme. The minimum improvements in their reading ages is 18 months.
Over the last 4 years we have worked with 36 students with the best improvement being 27 months improvement.
This intervention doesn’t just have a short term impact but when we retested our 1st wave of students at the beginning of this year we noticed that these improvements had been sustained.