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Librarians Say Kids Prefer Physical Books

8 March 2016

From Digital Book World:

During the “I’m a Librarian – Ask Me Anything” panel at today’s Launch Kids conference at Digital Book World 2016, librarians and literacy advocates discussed kids’ preference for physical books, and the role of ebooks as supplementary reading material.

. . . .

All panelists agreed that kids show a preference for physical books, with Rasmussen adding that kids love having the ability to touch them. “We are tactile creatures. We will judge books by their covers and that’s okay,” she said. “We do many creative things with books we can’t with digital, like building a poetry out of book spines.”

That being said, Jacobs noted that ebooks are a great supplement. “Though kids prefer physical books, book apps engage kids at a younger age. They’re an extension of characters and story,” she explained. “And now that devices are allowed in New York City schools, book content is becoming more accessible to students.”

. . . .

To conclude the discussion, the panel concurred that, regardless of future technological advancements in content, good books will always stand the test of time.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Children's Books

10 Comments to “Librarians Say Kids Prefer Physical Books”

  1. Hmm, ages of these paper book loving kids not mentioned …

    Still being read bedtime stories? The magic of what lurks on the next turn of a page.

    Still so young they’re told to put mom’s iphone down before they break it (again)? of course they love what they don’t get scolded for touching.

    Coloring books? For all ages now.

    And then in the end they admit it’s really all about the message and not the median …

  2. I wonder if there’s an age range where this is likely to be true? I can see a four-year-old needing to touch things, but I’m less sure this applies to a 10-year-old. If you’re a children’s book writer, this would be handy info to have.

  3. Selection bias.

  4. I agree with Jamie–there’s probably a vast difference in how children of different ages approach books. Younger children do like touching things, and their books often have very tactile approaches (fuzzy things on the page, etc.). But I can’t see the same applying to older kids. I’m guessing once they read Chap books the format matters less.

  5. Melinda Clayton

    Physical books for babies and toddlers tend to have big, bold colors, different textures, even scratch-and-sniff or audio components. This engages the young child (who is just learning how cool it is to touch, smell, hear, etc.) on multiple levels that ereaders, for the most part, can’t duplicate. A toddler engaging in an activity that stimulates sight, hearing, touch, smell is likely to remain engaged longer than a toddler engaging in something utilizing only one of those senses. At that age, it’s all new and exciting. Some kids never outgrow the preference for kinesthetic learning (I prefer it, myself – which is why I still buy paperbacks).

  6. I only have a sample size of 2 kids, but. . . we got them each small tablets a couple years ago, partly so they could read ebooks. But when I bought ebooks in some of their favorite series, they were not excited even though they would still check out those books from the library to read. So I thought they didn’t like ebooks – until one of them asked to borrow my eink Kindle one day, and they kept on borrowing it. When I asked why, turns out they like ebooks fine – they just don’t like reading on their tablets.
    These articles comparing ebooks to physical books never make a distinction about the device. I think there can be a big difference for some people.

  7. My ten year old asked us to by a kindle version of a paper book he was reading, he wasn’t comfortable holding the book and having to turn the pages while lying in bed. My 13 year old will only read a paper book if there is no kindle book version, otherwise he’s not interested in paper.

    I would think that librarians would mostly see people that prefer paper books. You don’t need to talk to anyone to browse a web site and download an ebook.

  8. And I bet kids also prefer to play with a simple wood stick horse rather than those newfangled video games.

  9. I hate those darned holographic ebooks that you can’t touch, but just have to glide your fingers through impotently.

    Nothing says “a talking point has seized my ability to reason and accurately analyze my observations” like a claim that makes absolutely no sense. Until they zap ebooks directly into your brain, the reader has something to touch, and the preference for one tactile format over another is just that, a preference. Even if it is masquerading as an essential distinction.

    Generally, once you start dressing up your personal preferences as essential truths, you’re on a very dangerous path.

    And: “We are tactile creatures.” We are so much more than tactile creatures. What do these people think a human being is, just a big bag of skin? This would be like crapping on books in favor of films because “We are audio-visual creatures. Kids like something that moves to look at.”

    I have neither a strong enough head nor desk for all the head-desking this inspires.

  10. I buy paper books for my grandson because his school doesn’t allow tablets or ereaders (yet).

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