"Since she turned 12 at the end of June, my daughter Gigi has finished 22 books. Why? The iPad."
One 12-Year-Old's Love Affair with Reading on the iPad
By Karen Springen
Karen Springen, a journalist and mother of two, spoke with her younger, technology-enchanted daughter about the appeal of the printed word on a backlit screen.
Since she turned 12 at the end of June, my daughter Gigi has finished 22 books. Why? The iPad. In the past, Gigi read –- but not voraciously. Sure, like any self-respecting tween, she sped through the Harry Potter, Lightning Thief, and Charlie Bone series. (She was so fond of Charlie Bone that she wrote to author Jenny Nimmo – and got a personal, hand-typed response from England. Yay!)
But she was not a 10-books-a-month girl. That changed when she received an iPad as a group birthday present from her family and grandmother. With the exception of the two weeks when she was at a no-electronics-allowed sleep-away camp, she has been a reading machine this past summer. So what’s the big lure of the iPad? For starters, it is a modern take on the old flashlight-under-the-covers idea. Gigi likes using the back-lit device “when other people are asleep, and I want to keep reading,” she says. “I like it at night. My room can be dark, but I’m reading.” Online e-bookstores (Apple’s iBooks, along with the apps for Barnes and Noble and Amazon) also let Gigi pick titles 24/7. She is no longer limited to the hours that a bricks-and-mortar bookstore or library is open. “I can download it at any hour,” she says. “It’s not like Amazon closes at 8.”
So far, with reading promotion in mind, we have let her use our on-file credit card. “If I had to keep paying my own money, once in a while I would read on the iPad, but I would mainly read print books,” says Gigi. “Let’s say they average $4. Twenty-two times $4 is $88 on books in the past three months. For a kid, all I get is allowance. I don’t have that much money.” With e-bookstores, Gigi doesn’t need to wait in a long line for popular titles. She gets frustrated with the limited choices and long lines for library e-books. “The wait lists are, like, four months long,” she says. “And they don’t have a ton.” A self-sufficient sort, Gigi also likes going solo rather than relying on librarians’ advice. “I don’t really like to ask for their help,” she says. “They’ll give you something that’s for a lower level. [And] they’ll give you things that librarians like, not things kids like.” She doesn’t mean to offend them. “They’re not kids, so they don’t know what kids like,” she says. Though she knows I write about kids’ books, she often turns down my recommendations, too.
Months after I tried to push them on her, she plucked Savvy and Shiver off our overflowing bookshelves. She liked them – especially Maggie Stiefvater’s tale of forest creatures who are human in warm seasons and wolves in cold ones. “It’s unique,” she says. “I’ve never heard of a book before with that idea.”