A funny thing has happened in the Housewright household. My 12-year-old son, Connor, has become an avid reader.
He’s never had a problem reading. He finishes his assigned reading at school without a problem, and his teacher says his comprehension is excellent.
But Connor has never loved reading – that is, he hasn’t read books for pleasure – until now. Connor recently discovered electronic books, and he’s starting to devour them.
I’m ecstatic. Don’t ask me why Connor has such a preference for electronic books over paper ones. To me, words are words. But I don’t want to make him explain his ebook affection for fear I might dampen his new love of reading.
Like a lot of kids his age, Connor has read the popular Hunger Games sci-fi trilogy. A movie based on the first book is coming out Friday. Did Connor want to buy the paper version of Hunger Games? No way.
He looked up the electronic version on the Kindle store, got my approval and purchased it. Within minutes, he was tearing through the first book on my Samsung tablet. And I was looking at my son with amazement.
During spring break last week, Connor and I took a five-hour road trip to San Antonio. In the past, he used my tablet to play endless video games, often ignoring scenery or attractions. In fact, his obsession with video games prompted me to institute an electronic-free vacation to Colorado last summer.
Now I welcome electronics on road trips
On our recent trip, however, Connor sat in the back seat staring at the 7-inch screen, but he was reading silently, not narrating action in a video game.
Suddenly, I went from hating the zombie-like effect electronics were having on him to cheering the way ebooks were enticing him to read for pleasure.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that Connor views ebooks entirely differently than paper books. After all, his generation has grown up with laptops, smart phone and now tablets. Most of the images and words they’ve been exposed to have been electronic.
I’m wondering why school administrators haven’t made the same discovery I have. Instead of decrying personal electronic devices, as I had, they should embrace e-readers in the classroom.
Why make young kid trudge to the school library to check out dog-eared paperbacks that they view as dated and boring? Instead, school boards should purchase a Kindle, Nook or other ereader for each student and have him or her download the required reading.
Ebooks are dropping in price. But more importantly, they captivate young readers. Their eyes respond to electronic words in ways they might never respond to words on paper.
I’ve done an about-face on the electronics issue. Now, I’m no longer threatening Connor with another electronics-free vacation. Instead, I’m encouraging him to use my Samsung Galaxy Tab as much as he wants – as long as he’s reading books, that is, not playing Halo
Sometimes parents and educators need to embrace kids’ preferences, not fight them. If kids love electronic devices, as most do, we should find ways to deliver educational content on them. Other parents might be surprised, as I was, to see their child become an avid reader once books are presented a familiar format.