Like printed text, e-books embrace print and illustrations but are viewed via computer (Larson, 2009). Honestly, reading e-books doesn’t sound that appealing to me because I do not enjoy looking at a computer screen for longer than I have to. I would much rather hold the book than read it off a screen. As Gloria Mark quoted in her post to the NY times, “it’s an escape from my digital devices” (2009, p.7). The whole idea of sitting, staring, and reading an e-book makes me uncomfortable, and so I have not even looked into e-books and the benefits they have for students. I found it sort of ironic that we had this assignment this week because when I went into the library to work after school this week, the librarian was meeting  with a representative from an e-book company that the school is considering purchasing a subscription from. When I checked my school email today, we have a 30 day trial membership, and I am really looking forward to getting more acquainted with e-books and witnessing first-hand the benefits they have on students. 🙂  

     The e-book I watched was Jack and the Box. It was a cute book, and I enjoyed the illustrations. I really liked that you could select the ‘read to me’ option. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think about how much my Kinders would love reading a book like this. They love doing anything with the Smart Board, and when you throw an e-book on the Smart Board, you’ve hit a home run! I bet you won’t be able to peel those kids’  eyes away from that book. Our class really enjoys to be read to, and getting to see the video that goes along with it will blow their mind. I’m so excited for the teacher to introduce some e-books to our class (or maybe me)! 🙂 

      e-books include several features such as video, audio, hyperlinks, and interactive tools (Larson, 2009). These features aid in engagement, comprehension, and motivation. Video helps the book come alive for students. Visualization is a comprehension strategy that we teach students, and a video provides the visual for them. The downside to that is that everybody is seeing the same video. When you read a book, however, everybody visualizes the book differently in their head. Videos do not allow for the reader to “make their own movie.” Audio is a definite advantage in regards to reading the text. This is excellent for beginning, struggling, and reluctant readers. Background audio (i.e., music, sound effects), though, could be distracting to some readers. Hyperlinks can be beneficial because they provide a link to another site that will provide more information on a topic. Hyperlinks can also be a disadvantage because it is very easy to be led to another site for a definition of a word, and then another site for further explanation, and so on, and so on. Before you know it, the reader can be very off task.

     As I watched Inanimate Alice, I found myself feeling very distracted. Theere was a lot of noise in the video (humming, music, sound effects), and I found it hard to concentrate on the reading. It may have been better for me if I turned the audio off, but then I would have missed out on the full affect of an e-book. When there was just one picture on the screen for the video I was fine, but when there were several images at onces I found it very difficult to keep up. The text was typed at a good size, but it would begin flashing sometimes, and I wasn’t always finished reading. That made it difficult to read. I really liked the interactive feature of the e-book. You may have to click on something to move on to the next page or section, and I enjoyed the game where we had to help Alice get dressed. I believe students would really enjoy this aspect of it. I also liked that an icon appeared on the side of the screen after a section in case the reader needed to reread or had a question about something. That prevents students from having to watch the entire e-book over again. Although Inanimate Alice wasn’t my cup of tea, I bet students will love it!

     I believe e-books will benefit our students, and we should strive to incorporate them in our curriculum. e-books may be especially promising in struggling readers because they offer support through mutiple tools and features that will help the struggling student read and comprehend the text. Such features include text size adjustment, dictionary, and note-taking capabilities (Larson, 2010). The note-taking feature is one that I find particularly interesting. It allows a place for students to write down thoughts or questions while they are reading, which will also aid in comprehension. According to Weigel and Gardner, students have begun to focus more on expressing their thoughts and ideas, instead of the mechanics of the writing (2009). I know that mechanics are important in writing, but it is the message they are trying to express that is more important. Sometimes we, myself included, need to remember that. We need to provide students with the instruction and tools they need to be successful readers and writers. This can be achieved through modeling, traditional literature, e-books and its’ numverous features, and by incorporating each students’ interests into the curriculum (Weigel & Gardner, 2009). This will improve student attitude, engagement, and motivation, which will offer a greater chance for success.
 

References

Larson, L. C. (2009). e-Reading and e-Responding: New Tools for the Next Generation of Readers. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(3), 255-258.

Larson, L. C. (2010). Digital Readers: The Next Chapter in E-Book Reading and Response. Reading Teacher, 64(1), 15-22. doi:10.1598/RT.64.1.2

Liu, A., Aamodt, S., Wolf, M., Gelernter, D., & Mark, G. (2009, October 14). Does the brain like e-books?. Retrieved from http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/does-the-brain-like-e-books/

Weigel, M., & Gardner, H. (2009). The Best of Both Literacies. Educational Leadership, 66(6), 38-41.

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