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Monday, April 4, 2011

Children's Literacy: See Spot Surf the Web

     I read an interesting piece in the Sunday Boston Globe yesterday about the death of the printed book. This is not news to anyone of course, and something we've all seen coming, and some of us have been anguishing over, for a long time. I find these reports distressing and depressing most of the time. What I liked about the piece yesterday (I'm sorry I have forgotten the author) was that I was left with one very hopeful feeling. The author said that children's books were not on death row, that the creation and sales of good children's literature was and will remain strong. I needed to hear that having long been a proponent of the myriad joys and benefits of reading to small children (as well as a writer of children's stories). Hearing that did my heart a world of good.
     Follow that this morning by this interesting piece from NPR about the changing world of children's literature;

     The conclusion I have come to is that the situation is really the same as it is for adults, it is just far more important to understand the consequences for children. The fact is we are talking about two different kinds of literacy. All children, every single one of them, need to be both print and digitally literate. Each is a different set of skills that requires exposure to an abundance of quality literacy of both types, the printed word and the digital word. Each requires the brain to operate in a different way, and both are best learned in developmentally appropriate ways during early childhood. One will never replace the other, and never again will only one suffice for later success. Mastery of digital literacy always has been and always will be dependent on print literacy making the picture and early story books more important than ever, but the importance of digital literacy for children probably can not even be imagined by the confines of what we know today.
     My stubborn attitude of refusing to even look at an e-book is actually a childish indulgence no child can afford, or be asked, to make.

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