In a recent survey of 1200 iPad owners it became obvious that parents who read bedtime stories to their kids overwhelmingly prefer to read real paper books rather than use their iPads for this pleasant and essential bedtime ritual. Apparently 60% of those surveyed stated they wouldn’t use their beloved iPads for this.
The reasons given where the obvious fact that the iPad offers too many distractions, as most ebooks on the iPad are enhanced with a wide range of animations, videos and sounds, all of which the kids wanted to see happening, preferably happening through the kid’s own manipulations of the iPad – Thus no chance of the kid getting happily lost in the story, but totally distracted by all the side goodies that an iPad (and any other tablet) offer.
Reading is all about imagination.
Frankly this comes as no surprise to me, as I have long felt that reading on such devices is a lousy alternative to reading either a paper book or with a dedicated, simple ereader, such as a Sony, Kindle or whatever. I have said this before and will no doubt say it again, reading is a hugely pleasurable activity precisely because it demands that we bring our imagination and fantasy to the activity rather than delivering the whole thing to us already realised. Much like the difference between a play on TV or on the radio.
To illustrate this point, consider the superb radio play “The Hithchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, which originally was a radio play over about 12 installments and was hugely successful in Britain as the various characters and sound effects were so well written, but left so much to our own imaginations to work with. Later attempts were made to make a TV and film version of it, which were fun, but nothing like as much fun as the original radio version because it lost that main benefit, as it was all created for us, so no imagination needed on our parts to follow the tale.
Whilst I like enhanced ebooks, and have nothing against them in fact, I do not consider them in the same light as I consider ebooks or paper books, they are really more akin to a sort of handheld cinema or TV set than to a book…. Fine for that sort of purpose, but no good for reading kid’s their bedtime stories with. No end of research has shown that telling children stories as they go to sleep, whether it be by reading from a book (preferably without too many pictures) or making one up oneself is essential for the development of the kid’s brain – and is great fun for both parent and child too, of course.
The problem with iPads and other tablets, and even colour screened ereaders is that the device gets in the way of the direct communication that reading or telling a story without distractions gives us, and which we actually require to develop properly as human beings. All those other possibilities that such devices give us, great in the proper place, are an essentially destructive distraction when it comes to bedtime stories, and should be avoided at all costs in my view.
Story telling is an ancient human activity, and always depends on us allowing the story to take us out of the daily realities of the world and into a world of fantasy, which is always achieved by words, not images and sound effects and is obviously best achieved by a story teller and his(her) listeners sitting in a group and giving their full attention to the unfolding tale.
So, I feel strongly that devices such as iPads are great for no end of purposes, including reading ebooks, but should be avoided like the plague when it comes to the wonderful ceremony of reading stories to children as they go to sleep… Here the paper book or the dedicated ereader are still king.
Image source: http://o5.com/9-bedtime-books-kids-and-moms-love/
Share with us:
Do you agree with what I have written here, or do you think I am barking up the wrong tree yet again? Do let us share your thoughts on the merits or otherwise of iPads, ereaders, paper books or made up stories for children’s bedtime story.