Over the past two years, I have seen more of my students carrying e-readers, so the most recent NYTimes article “E-Readers Catch Younger Eyes and Go in Backpacks” did not surprise me. Last year, as a sixth grade teacher, I had 1-2 students in each class who asked permission to use their e-readers during independent reading (Kindles and Nooks). They always caused a buzz the first time they came in, with other students (and even teachers!) crowding around, oohing and ahhing. After that, they were just another format in the classroom.
This year in high school, I started the year with about 6% of my class using e-readers (mostly Kindles). After Christmas vacation, I had an even larger percentage using Kindles, iPads, and Nooks. I think I am up to around 10-12% of my class using e-readers. I do notice more of my students reading the classics offered for free download, but that could also be a result of my 40 Book Reading Challenge, which requires that they read 3 canon classics. However, the e-readers make it easier for my students to access the classics. And this might be crazy, but I also think my students download the classics because a lot of them lack covers or consist of solid color covers. There is not “judging a book by its cover” because it doesn’t really have one. Thus, they go into the book without any preconceived notions about it being boring. Not for nothing, but so many of the classics have atrocious covers that do not attract modern teen readers. E-readers take that out of the equation!
I am also seeing them read new books, downloading recommendations from friends and books that I booktalk in class. They also pass the e-readers around, letting friends borrow them to read books.
I’m still a holdout. I use my iPad to carry books on vacation, but otherwise I stick to paper copies. I can’t put e-copies in my classroom library. 🙂 However, I am a fan of anything that gets kids reading, so keep buying your kids those e-readers! And publishers, make your newest YA and middle grade titles available as e-books. If you sell it, they will buy it!