Librarians Say Kids Prefer Physical Books

The "I'm a Librarian - AMA" panel discusses kids' preference for physical books

The “I’m a Librarian – AMA” panel discusses kids’ preference for physical books

During the “I’m a Librarian – Ask Me Anything” panel at today’s Launch Kids conference at Digital Book World 2016, librarians and literacy advocates discussed kids’ preference for physical books, and the role of ebooks as supplementary reading material.

The talk was moderated by Carol Fitzgerald, president of The Book Report Network, and included Richard Watson of Baker & Taylor, literacy advocate and teacher Donna Rasmussen, and Melissa Jacobs, who is coordinator in the Office of Library Services for the New York City Department of Education.

All panelists agreed that kids show a preference for physical books, with Rasmussen adding that kids love having the ability to touch them. We are tactile creatures. We will judge books by their covers and that’s okay,” she said. “We do many creative things with books we can’t with digital, like building a poetry out of book spines.”

That being said, Jacobs noted that ebooks are a great supplement. “Though kids prefer physical books, book apps engage kids at a younger age. They’re an extension of characters and story,” she explained. “And now that devices are allowed in New York City schools, book content is becoming more accessible to students.”

Speaking of book apps, Watson discussed Baker & Taylor’s work on the new Open eBooks app, which gives free ebooks to students from in-need households.

‘“Students and parents want us [librarians and educators] to be more current and engaging,” Rasmussen said. “We can instantaneously change and modify what’s happening in the classroom with these new technological developments.”

To conclude the discussion, the panel concurred that, regardless of future technological advancements in content, good books will always stand the test of time.

“Good books are good books and human beings [of all generations] grow up the same way,” Rasmussen affirmed. “Those books have appeal and always will. And kids are such loyal readers, so the fandoms are amazing.”

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