Up for debate: E-books or traditional books?

E-books have been around for a while, but the popularity of various tech platforms, such as the Kindle and the iPad, has brought more awareness to the format. In its simplest form, an e-book is digital text that can be read on a tech gadget or computer. Recent innovations have incorporated animation, Web links and interactive options that make e-books extra appealing to kids.

Exploring e-books with even young children also encourages the development of transliteracy. Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media, and today’s child will need this 21st century skill to be successful in school and future careers.

The most important word in the question is not electronic or even book. It’s reading. Parents should worry less about the format and more about providing opportunities for children to read. Consider these points as you and your child explore books through technology.

What’s the difference? Without shipping costs or wait times, e-books offer instantaneous digital delivery, can be carried on a mobile device or smart phone and offer options like text size adjustments or language choice. Pictures books might incorporate sounds and movement or a chapter book may offer dictionary links to words for readers who stumble upon new vocabulary.

Don’t get down on digital. Even if you’re a paperback junkie, avoid criticizing electronic books or getting on your too-much-technology soapbox. Kids will be more likely to benefit from the e-reading experiences they have at school or with friends if they know you support their reading opportunities-in print and digital formats.

Make it positive. Curling up with a great stack of books from the library can be a wonderful, positive reading experience-as can discovering a new book app together on your mobile phone or flipping pages of an e-book on the computer. No matter which format you’re enjoying, the most important thing to promote is a positive reading experience and create opportunities for both types when you can.

Explore them together. Do a little research with your child. Electronic readers like the Nook from Barnes& Noble and Amazon’s Kindle offer kid-friendly collections of digital books for children of every age. Many local libraries offer free downloadable e-books for computers, mobile devices and electronic readers. Take a look at the “Alice in Wonderland” app for the iPad to get a new view of an old classic.

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