Teens like books over digital form
By KATHY CICHON
While it seems students embrace and adapt to technology more quickly than some adults, when it comes to reading a novel, they tend to opt for the printed word.
"We don't see a lot of demand for downloads," said Kathleen Pope, library media center director at Neuqua Valley High School. Although Neuqua has an e-book collection, there still isn't one solid protocol for viewing them, she said.
"Most teenagers do not have that kind of device," Pope said.
Part of it could be the price. It just doesn't seem to be something the students have adopted yet as a lifestyle, she said.
"I have never had a student ask me to download a book," Pope said. "The students still prefer a book. They love to be on the computer, but not for that purpose. They see the computer as more of a social device, not as much as a tool as adults do."
That's not to say digital media are not used in their reading habits. One way Neuqua students are using the technology is through BookTube. A take-off of YouTube, students can film themselves giving snapshot reviews and recommendations of books they have read. The videos can then be posted to their profile pages, which other students can view if they choose.
When a student hears a book is endorsed by another student as opposed to a teacher or other adult, they are more likely to pick it up, Pope said.
"I remember reading a book in high school because a boy I liked was reading it," Pope said. "It was a book by John Updike. I went to library and got the book out simply because I saw him reading it."
Peer reviews have been popular at the Naperville Public Library as well. Last year, the library began offering online registration and book reviews for its summer reading program.
"We were very pleasantly surprised at how many participated in writing the reviews," said Kathleen Longacre, co-chair of the summer reading program, and adult services librarian at 95th Street Library. "They've been really good at doing it. We use those book reviews to do book displays. That helps us know what they want to read."
And it helps the teens get recommendations for their next title.
"They can look to see what other kids are reading," Longacre said.
The online registration and reviews are being offered again for this summer's program, which begins today.
Although teens and adults can register and fill out their Naperville Public Library summer reading logs online, the children must still come to the library.
"They're so excited to come in and show us the reading log," said Marsha Spurlock, children's services supervisor at 95h Street Library and co-chair of the summer reading program. "That interaction, we didn't want to lose that."
At the public library, younger readers seem to prefer the print books. However, there are some who download audio books, she said.
"Kids are savvy," Spurlock said. "Some of them are listening to them on their iPods or MP3 players."
At Ranch View Elementary in District 203, students are encouraged to listen to books using an online summer reading program called Raz-kids.com to help maintain their reading skills during the break. A student listens to the book read for modeled fluency. Then, if the computer has a built in microphone, they can record themselves reading the same book. Or they can read it to themselves or aloud for practice. At the end of each book are interactive quizzes that check for reading comprehension.
Often getting the conversation started about a book can generate interest in reading, teachers and librarians said.
This is the second year that Paula Helberg, reading specialist at Steeple Run Elementary School in District 203, has run a summer reading blog for her older students.
"They talk to us about the books they are reading," she said.
The blog is for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, and all comments are read before they are actually posted, Helberg said. Even though students in the younger grades write letters to their teachers instead of using the blog, they are still engaging in a dialogue about books.
As for e-books, the elementary students she works with are sticking with old-fashioned ink and paper for now.
"I imagine some day," Helberg said. "But for now, a book is a lot cheaper than a Kindle."