Yes?!? To E-readers

I’ve said no to Nintendo DS, GameBoy, Xbox, Wii, iPod Touch… I want my kids to spend their spare hours reading, not attached to a machine.

I’ve loved watching them live in the stories they love, running around in costumes creating their own Secrets Of Droon script, or building unique spacecraft and imagining whole new worlds. Books inspire that kind of creativity, not machines.

I’m a proud bookworm: every spare wall in my house contains an overstuffed bookshelf–and I love my books with a fierce passion. My daughters love their books too.

But this summer books turned electronic: my ten-year-old bought a Nook with her own saved birthday and holiday money. I couldn’t say no to a book, right?!?!

As an author I have complicated feelings about E-readers. Mainly, I hate that I’ve transformed from a writer to a “content creator.” Where’s the romance in that?

Dutifully, I took my daughter to the free Nook class. About a dozen people, representing just about every decade of life–the oldest man was 80–learned how to read free sample chapters, download books, change font size, etc.

I sat nearby with my laptop, trying to create content, with one ear listening to the B&N employee boast about the glowing future of electronic books. I didn’t get many words written.

My daughter brought her Nook home, drew and colored a picture for her E-reader cover, and snuggled into the sofa and read. She read for hours. More than she’d read all summer.

Something about reading electronically makes my reluctant reader feel edgy and cool. And no matter what happens to her poor content creating mother, I know that an E-reader will always be part of my daughter’s life. She’s hooked!

Sydney Salter, author of JUNGLE CROSSING, a middle-grade novel with a glossy cover and thick, creamy pages, lives and writes in Utah. She’s never read a book electronically, but she did download her work-in-progress onto her daughter’s Nook for feedback.

Sydney Salter
  1. I, too, have been reluctant to try any of the e-readers. Although…a good friend showed me her Kindle last week, and now I’ve been letting the idea bounce around in my head some more. I have bookshelves overflowing in every room of my house. I cant’ quite seem to get the idea of replacing my beloved stacks and piles of real, live books with files on a slim plastic screen. Just doesn’t sound…comfy…to snuggle down under the quilt at night with a “e-reader” somehow. But maybe…

  2. I LOVE that picture of your daughter reading from her Nook! Thanks for sharing and I love the anecdotes and feelings about real kids and teens.

  3. Thanks for all the comments. Dede–manuscripts can be downloaded as PDF files onto E-readers. And I agree kids love everything digital. It looks like books are a lot like music–my kids have never bought a physical CD, but they “buy” songs all the time online.

  4. I think we’re going to hit the tipping point a lot sooner than we thought, and young readers are a major part of that shift. Could the music industry be a bellwether? How many young adults and teens are buying CDs versus downloads?

  5. As a children’s literacy advocate and author/”content creator”, I think this is a great opportunity to get kids reading more. Especially “reluctant readers” – those boys that wouldn’t pick up a book to read for pleasure without some serious bribing on the part of the parent. Those of you with young boys will know exactly what I’m talking about.

    Even though I love the experience of sitting back with a good “book” in my hands, it’s just not the way our kids feel these days. We’re in a paradigm shift, and as parents and educators we need to embrace it…with an emphasis on finding and providing great “content”. Kids LOVE being connected with a digital device. We should take that as a green light to support them in the habit of reading, then, hopefully, get them to experience the deliciousness of reading a great printed book by the fireplace as they get a little older.

  6. Thanks for the post. I love my Nook though I still buy the occasional traditional book now and then…:)

    I’m interested in your comment about downloading your manuscript to your daughter’s Nook…is there any easy way to do this?


  7. The tide is rising…. My 11-year-old daughter is obsessed with the Nook display at our local B&N. Guess what’s on the top of her Christmas list?

  8. Nice story — and shows that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to books. Traditional books, audio books, e-books–they all have their place in the reading world. (And BTW — my 11-yo daughter and I loved Jungle Crossing.)

  9. I’m curious about how electronic readers will change the way writers work. Do any of the writers on this site have any thoughts about how it will shape and change the way they tell stories in the (very near) future?

  10. I do love that we can load several titles onto the Nook for travel–but I’ll kind of miss those emergency road-trip bookstore visits (I always manage to find something for myself as well!). And I’m not sure I’ll ever want a book I have to turn off during takeoff and landing 🙂

  11. How interesting that your daughter is reading more with the Nook! Good for her, for saving up the money for something she wanted.

    I’ve been thinking of getting one myself, but I plan to wait another year at least. It would be very nice for traveling!