It’s a Book by Lane Smith

A review!

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780330544023
Published: 2/3/2012

You’ve heard of digital books right? Kindle books, ePub books, eReaders, all that malarkey? This is the argument for the physical book right here. It’s a conversation between a monkey and a jackass, where Jackass spots Monkey reading a book and wants to know what can it do. Can it send tweets, does it have a password, can it text, does it makes noises like THIS, all get asked of the Monkey. Until finally, Jackass can’t help himself, sidles over to Monkey, and somehow ends up alone in the chair, thoroughly absorbed in Monkey’s book. When he lets Monkey know he’ll charge it up before he returns it though, he’s reminded that he doesn’t need to as…..it’s a book.

A short and sharp demonstration I think about the merits of physical books as opposed to the gadgets you can read digital books on. I do own an eReader, but it is an old and slightly doddery one, so no bells and whistles on it to be distracted by. However, I know me, and I know that if I had an eReader which could connect to the Internet, I’d get a whole lot less reading done of my books because I’d be too busy darting off reading webpages instead. I get the feeling with eReader devices that can do this, that and the other, that the temptation is there to jump from bell to whistle to book to bell to whistle and so forth, never actually settling on one activity because you have so many you can do on this one gizmo. Certainly Jackass is like this – he’s so used to darting between his tweeting and his texting and the like that he can’t sit still until he’s grabbed by Monkey’s book and sits there for hours, just reading. He reminds me of some of the kids I’ve chatted to before in my work – for some, it’s difficult to settle into a book until you really get one that grabs your attention. Imagine if you had videos and music and games and the Internet lodged in with that book – how would you manage to settle to read amidst all of that? That’s the impression I get with Jackass – he’s so busy with all his gizmo’s gadgets, it’s not until he’s presented with the oddity of Monkey reading his plain old book that he takes notice and really settles on doing just the ONE thing with his time.

That is of course one of the main arguments against children’s eReading – that the gizmos themselves are too distracting, and don’t lend anything to the act of reading. Whether you think it’s true or not is a debate for a separate blog post entirely (and believe me, I am planning on one – the whole situation fascinates me!). It is also one of the reasons why this is that oddity of a picturebook that is NOT aimed at the under 5’s. Under 5’s would not get very much from this I think. This is a book you could build a discussion around, so I’d say this is more for 9-12’s actually. I would love to see a class of Year 6’s, half of which nowadays have either seen or used a Kindle or iPad-like device, debate whether they are useful for reading or not. Considering how few kid’s points of view I’ve read on this, I imagine the discussion would be an eye-opener.

One teensy thing – a small adult in joke at the very end on the American word and usage of ‘jackass’. Fine for kids who don’t know too many Americanisms, a quiet snigger for adults who do – I LOVE cultural variations in language, especially ones as succinct as this!

Anyone looking to discuss kids and digital reading – please, comment away, I’m eager for a chat and different point of view than my own!

Find it here

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