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Monday, January 18, 2010

Reading to young children and the advancements in technology

I recently read a blog article posted by my new friend Matt at "Look at my Happy Rainbow" titled "Pop Up." Matt shared with his readers how much his Kindergarten age children still enjoy books - even Pop Up books. I was even kind of surprised at this and then he showed a picture of a pop-up book where the author's work was so amazing that it is no wonder a Kindergarten child would love it. He also went on to briefly discuss the use of electronic devices in the classroom environment. Matt's post and the comments that followed from his readers got me thinking about the future of books in the preschool classroom.

The reality is, technology such as computers and Kindle (electronic books) are expensive and difficult to keep up with in the preschool classroom. As much as I love technology and use it daily in my adult life, I have always struggled to find a great way to introduce technology consistently in my preschool classroom. It seems like the computers get outdated so quickly or something breaks or the keyboard gets all sticky. But this post is not to down technology, I think we should introduce it to our preschoolers and I am still working on getting better at it.

What I want to share with you is why I think "real" books are so important for the preschool classroom.

Deborah and Wy

The power of real books
There is nothing better than sitting close to someone and listening to them use their real voice and watching their facial expressions as they read aloud from a real book. For young children, reading with a parent or a teacher is meaningful. It allows for interaction, communication, bonding, learning, and building lasting memories.

I love the look, feel, and smell of a real book. I can keep a book forever. I can write in it, display it on the mantle, toss it in the toy box, and I don't have to change the batteries or download new software to make sure it still works.

I am all for introducing young children to new technology but I don't think technology should replace real books. I hope it never does. I probably can't express fully why I feel this way but I think the photo of me and my nephew (shown above) says it all!



Launa Hall said...

I can think of nothing I liked better than sitting in a parent's lap when I was little, engulfed in words and warmth and breath and story. Nothing, that is, until I held my own little one and read a book together. I started reading to my son on his first day of life, and now he's ten and my daughter's seven, and we're still reading aloud and loving it.

Vanessa said...

I agree, we shouldn't replace real books with technology in early childhood. However, I am huge advocate for technology in the early childhood classroom- the benefits are astounding and increase student motivation to learn and engagement. In our public school district we have Interactive Whiteboards, computers, projectors, document cameras (ELMOs), iPods and more in almost every single pre-k classroom. You can read all about how I use these types of things in preschool here:

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Hey Vanessa,
I am glad you have pointed out that technology is a great for the preschool classroom too:) I agree and this is an area that I really need to improve it. Perhaps I could get someone to write a guest post about this for me:) (hint, hint).

Teacher Tom said...

I'm like you, Deborah, I struggle to bring electronic technology into the classroom. I'm not a Luddite in my own life, but I'm nearly always convinced that there is a non-electronic way to teach the same lesson, better. (That doesn't mean that I won't take a look a Vanessa's links!)

But when it comes to books, I will NEVER replace them with technology. They are already a perfected technological form, like balls or dolls.

Scott Wiley said...

I love sitting with a child (or group of children) and reading a book. I would never want to replace books with technology.

But I am trying to find the ways that technology can enhance what we're doing, whether using that technology in the classroom with kids or using the technology to make things to use with kids.

Last year a highlight activity: I created a presentation with photos of the kids. I brought my laptop into the classroom and they dictated captions for the photos so we could create a book. I printed the book at home and brought it to read to the class. (I sent a CD with a copy of the book home with each kid.)

Technology can be a tool, but it's just another one in our teacher arsenal.

Miller Moments said...

I think you are my kindred spirit. :) I LOVE books. I did a post not too long ago on how we remodeled our family room so that the walls were lined with bookshelves for our ever growing collection. If I do anything right as a homeschool mom, it's that I want my boys to love reading. If you can read a book you can learn almost anything.

halpey1 said...

Wow! Thanks for the shout-out and reference... I'm truly honored you introduced my blog to your readers. Thank you!

Kelly said...

I enjoy technology as an adult and I think there is a place for it in the early childhood classroom but NEVER in the place of real books. To be honest, I still love the feeling of a real book and a kindle or any similar product will not take the place of that :)

Launa Hall said...

I'm going to check out Vanessa's links too, and I'm glad to learn from her experience. My feeling on technology in the classroom is that it often takes the form of a metaphor for something "in the real world." Like a digital book, instead of a book. Or a painting program like Kid Pix, in which you "paint" through the movement of your mouse. Or games that imitate real-life games, like moving cars across the screen or putting cherries in a basket. I can see the usefulness of each of these, but I feel the preschool child must do the real thing FIRST, and often, (reading a book, painting a picture, playing a game) before the digital metaphor has meaning.

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Launa - that is a great way to put it. I want the kids to get their hands all messy when they paint - then we will head over to the computer and try painting that way too. But first the messy way:) I love reading all the different perspectives everyone has shared. It is awesome!

Elise said...

Reading a book with a child is an experience where memories are made. Books are tangible items that evoke feelings. I still have books from my childhood that I vividly rember reading with my mum and sister. Sometimes a picture from a book can trigger a childhood memory (one that includes the person you shared it with, the place you were etc).

I agree, there certainly is a place for technology, but nothing can replace the experience of sharing a book with someone.

Gaby said...

Sweet photo. I agree with you 100%. Besides being on the computer too long can be draining on the eyes, especially for little ones.

SharaPCS said...

Deborah: This is something to ponder, for sure. On the one hand, technology is a must for kids now if they want to succeed in the business world/future. They may not be taught proper (and safe) computer use at home so teachers have the opportunity to help that along.

On the other hand, books are a MUST and if we encourage too much movement toward ebooks (like some high schools and colleges are doing now), will real books disappear?

What a sad thought. I've been told that PCS should move to a digital business. That I should charge for my individualized freelance storylines and just let the customer print and staple. That will NEVVAH happen ;-)

Nothing can replace a book, a cuddle, pointing out words that have been placed on a page "just right", the turn of pages between the fingers, etc. I have photos of my kids sleeping, with my books unfolded over their chests. That, my friend, is irreplaceable! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I agree so much with you about how important it is to preserve the delight of holding a 'real book'. In the UK the subject of Information and Technology has now become a 'core' subject, ahead of Science subjects and Art, History etc. In the classroom I see our interactive whiteboards being used for shared reading time and it seems ironically so less 'interactive' somehow!! A teacher, I believe, is always more enthusiastic and involved about a book she / he reads personally to the children. What about eye-contact etc? You might like to read Toxic Childhood by Sue Palmer, Deborah, if you are really concerned about how technology is affecting our kids.

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Hi Carly,
I will be sure to check out that book - thanks for the recommendation! I haven't used a whiteboard yet. Like I said, I am way behind on technology in the classroom:)

Shara - I can't imagine PCS being the same if it went all digital - it seems to me that it would be missing part of what makes it "personal".

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

Deborah, this is an excellent post, and I SO agree with you about real books being much more meaningful to children (and grown ups too!). I feel there's no rush to introduce our small children to all the technology out there. I've yet to hear an argument that makes sense (to me) about why it is important to do so. However, that said, I'm going to check out some of the links mentioned in above comments. Keep up the great blogging, I always love what you write!

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