Who’s afraid of a big, thick book? My guy. Rethinking the KOBO

I like books. The real kind – with spines forever creased, dog-eared pages and stains from the chocolate chip cookie I was eating when I read them. I’ve got shelves filled with books and when those fill up, I add more shelves. Asking me to part with a book that I’ve loved (or hated) is like asking me to give you one of my arms. I love them and once I’ve written my name in them they are forever mine.

It’s why I was pre-disposed to hating e-readers. I spend my entire day in front of a computer screen, I don’t want to curl up for bed alongside another one (unless it’s my iPhone and that’s a whole different story).

I’m lucky enough to attend a lot of events held by tourist boards, large corporations and conferences and often am gifted with a small token of appreciation. Recently I received a Kobo (!!) – the e-reader sold in Canada at Chapters Indigo. The device came with a built in library of classics and I added a book I  was reading with my bookclub and tried it out on a train ride to Ottawa and Montreal last summer.

I hated it.

For all of the reasons I thought I would but also because when it was over, the book I had loved and stayed up all night reading, didn’t physically exist. I couldn’t pass it on to a friend or quickly turn to a dog-eared page I loved.  I retired my KOBO and returned to reading the real thing.

Then yesterday happened.

Ethan out of the blue – you’d have to know the kid to understand – asked if he could read “A Tale of Two cities.” I happen to have a copy that is aimed at kids – same words but colourful pictures to help them get through the phrasing and dreariness that is 1775 England – and I rushed to the shelf and got it for him.

The Reader

Big books are less intimidating now

He read one sentence and started to complain.

“The words are too small,” he complained. ” and there are too many of them.”

Ish suggested he find it on the KOBO.

He read three chapters before bed.

He’s a fan of books like the Wimpy Kid series and Captain Underpants but more challenging books, with dozens of chapters and dense text held no appeal.

But on the e-reader – non-readers aren’t put off by the length of chapters or the size of the font or the daunting nature of a big book. All they get are the words on a “cool” device and if the story is the right one that’s all they need.

It makes perfect sense that the Nintendo DS generation would be perfectly comfortable with the gameboy like controls on the e-reader and frankly if it gets him reading more, I support it too.

I’d been debating whether the KOBO would make the trip with us next summer when we head off on our RTW adventure.

There’s no question it’s coming now.

Are you a fan of e-readers? Are your kids? Anyone reading Dickens?

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{ 6 comments… add one }

Jen Maier, urbanmoms November 3, 2010, 8:54 PM

Never thought of this. Fabulous insight! And A Tale of Two Cities?! Are you KIDDING ME?! That boy is something special.

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Heather November 3, 2010, 8:00 AM

Caught me by surprise too. Here’s hoping it lasts. Introducing him to Pride and Prejudice next week.

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Wag November 4, 2010, 1:22 PM

Learning happens on so many different levels but at the end of the day it is the individual’s preference that bears relevance.

It is so great that children have all these options to access material. Very nice work.

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Heather November 4, 2010, 2:33 PM

Totally agree.

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Melody November 4, 2010, 3:51 PM

That’s actually a brilliant observation about the non-intimidation factor with long books for kids. Totally going to try it with Ella. Thanks!

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Heather November 4, 2010, 2:32 PM

Let me know if it works for you Melody. Wondering if it’s just my guy. If not it may be something for schools to consider as well.

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