Yes, we have so many options these days as readers, not just in the types of material to read, but how we actually view the text. In a conversation with a student today regarding the design of our media center, he plainly said:
“Look, I like books and all, but that’s just not how I read anymore. If I want to read something, I always pull up a chair and go on the internet.”
Regardless of our emotions surrounding physical books, we must begin to adapt our teaching and our reading expectations to where the students are. Let me clarify that a bit:
- I do feel there will always be a need for paper-bound materials in schools and in life. There is some sense of permanence, of romance for lack of a better term, in them.
- I think the immediate future will see a mix of digital and paper-bound books, and, for schools, that is going to be a messy time. We are so paper-heavy still, and any transition the other way will clearly have some growing pains.
- Reading, truly and deeply, can be done on a variety of surfaces.
All that said, I’ve been doing some digging into ways to get more text in front of our students. Here’s one from, of all places, the iTunes Store, that I think is completely under-utilized.
Additionally, check out Google eBooks for their collection of classics in the public domain. I spent some time the other night cross-checking our lists of titles in our curriculum at the high school level with Google and iTunes U and found a surprisingly high number between the two sites. That bodes well for students who simply struggle to read texts at the level of complexity of the books in the canon.