Encouraging Book Reading In The Age of Technology

Late last night, I came across this article on The Huffington Post Education section by Charles London, Boys Don’t Read, Except When They Do, and it got me to thinking about technology and reading.  Now granted, this article does mention technology, such as video games, but it deals mostly with what people are reading and how we should classify reading, in particular, with young boys.

While I found the article to be interesting, it got to me thinking about how technology, and how we seem to be getting even more gadgets and gizmos to play with on a daily basis, and how that’s affected our reading habits, especially with regards to book reading.  I’m not just talking about today’s children here, but people young and old.

When I see young kids these days, in their free time, I usually don’t see them reading books, or doing much reading at all.  I either see them playing a video/computer game, playing with a Gameboy, smartphone, etc.  Even a teenaged nephew I have wouldn’t even consider picking up a book, he would much rather play a video game.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have gone through my video game playing time, where I was glued to a television and game system for hours at a time.  However, as I have expanded on my reading over the last couple of years, I have seen that time decrease to about no video game time period.  As a matter of fact, my Wii is gathering dust, and my Xbox 360 is in need of a new power adapter that I haven’t managed to purchase yet.

Now, I’m all for encouraging reading of all sorts, even if someone is on the internet reading a video gaming site, etc, much similar to what Charles London is discussing in this article.  But while I understand that this type of reading is still reading, I want to concentrate my thoughts today on book reading.  Whether that book reading takes place on an iPad, Kindle, physical book, etc.

A part of me tells myself that a decrease in book reading is correlated with the amount of time it takes to actually read a book.  Reading a book is a physical time commitment, and given that we have so many things to occupy our time with, housework, schoolwork, yard work, etc, that finding the time to stop all that and read a book may seem like you aren’t using your time wisely.

Because of the required time commitment, I begin to wonder how technology can play a role in seeing book reading become more of a fun and time worthy hobby.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m inspired with e-readers and how they make reading a bit more portable, and accessible.  A devoted e-reader is great for those of us who want nothing but to read books.  That’s why I’m looking forward to getting a Kindle later on this summer.

But what about for those who want more with their reading, like some interaction, or the ability to bring up a website of interest of what they’re reading?  These areas is where I truly believe devices such as the iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, and various other devices can help enrich the reading experience for those who truly enjoy the bonus content, and in an age where we’re looking for hip, fun things to do, make reading more enjoyable and fun.

Here’s an interesting personal example.  As you’re well aware, I’m currently reading the second volume of Karl Marx’s Capital.  A more interactive device like and iPad, could have a link built into the text, or a footnote that links to a related lecture video, or additional content to enhance what I’m reading.  I could easily highlight, or tap the link, and have the video brought up, mind you, if you’re on an iPad, hoping that video isn’t a Flash video!  😀

Such a video would enrich my understanding of the concept, and perhaps make my reading experience that much more enjoyable.  It would also save me the time and effort of searching for complementary material to further understand my reading of the text.

However, let’s take a much more hip example, something like Harry Potter.  Let’s say you’re reading one of the books, and you want to learn more about quidditch.  I’m sure there’s a multitude of sites with video that would allow the reader to visualize a quidditch game that’s described in the book.  Or better yet, if you’re reading The Sorcerer’s Stone, what better way than to click on the video clip to see the actual scenes from the movie?  In this case, maybe younger readers would be more attracted to reading if they’re visually stimulated in that manner.

I don’t know for sure, and I may very well be off my rocker here and that people don’t need further encouragement to read books.  However, based on what I’ve seen in my experience, reading has taken a back seat to other more “fun” gadgets, or activities that don’t require the time commitment.

Am I way off base here?  Please let me know, I’d love to have a further discussion about it!


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

16 Responses to “Encouraging Book Reading In The Age of Technology”

  1. Nope. I don’t think you’re way off base here. This year I’ve read less so far than I have in the last few years, and I think that things you mentioned — withe more interactive features — definitely would add to the reading experience.

    Oh, and if you’re going to get an e-reader, I’d still suggest the Nook over the Kindle. I have the Nook and have been pleased with it thus far.

    • I’ve read and heard a new Nook may be announced later on this month. I would be very curious how much different it is than the current model. I’ve also been reading that Barnes and Noble may shed the 3G due to costs. I think that would be a major design snafu.

      How’s the organization on a Nook? I’m really drawn to the ability of the Kindle to be able to organize books well.

  2. I don’t know much about ereaders I don’t have one but most my friends are pretty encouraging to there kids who are young to read..so much that I seem to be giving books pretty often.

    • My parents also encouraged reading as we were growing up, but, we also didn’t have all the cell phones, dvds and advanced video game systems either. 🙂

      Unfortunately, I don’t know too many people that have reading age kids, although, I did purchase Dr. Seuss books for my brother-in-law’s girls for Christmas.

  3. Hmm, intriguing. I didn’t realize that the Nook had other functions aside from reading. Something to explore. Meanwhile, though, I’m enjoying my Kindle.

    I still love my print books more, though.

    Thanks for the post…and for stopping by my blog.

    • The Nook Color might be able to perform that functionality, my sister has the regular Nook and she hasn’t mentioned it.

      She also still mostly reads print books more than on her Nook, says it’s much better.

      Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  4. Hi Jeremy!! I have an iPad. I haven’t read books with embedded video, but I have read magazines with embedded video. No it does not require flash!!!

    I have to tell you, one of the reasons I was always big on reading was because my mom restricted the amount of tv and video games.

    For entertainment, if I wasn’t reading then I would be outside playing or baking cookies.

    • Hi Brooke! I’m not too familiar with the features of the iPad. I’m glad to hear that the embedded videos with magazine aren’t flash enabled. That feature sounds quite fascinating to me.

      I hear ya with decreasing the amount of television. 🙂

  5. It doesnt matter whether you look at men or women kids teenagers young adults or the middle-aged everyone is reading less literature and fewer books. .When I share this ray of sunshine I encounter three different reactions the first being acceptance Oh well thats too bad! Reading skills for all levels of educational attainment are declining up to and including people with Masters and PhDs. Reading is strongly correlated with all sorts of good things such as voting volunteering civic responsibility and even exercise.

    • I completely agree! While I was working on my Masters I found very little time to do any free reading. While I try to make as much time as possible for reading, there are days where it’s extremely difficult.

      I also love the fact that reading encourages other activities. Thanks for dropping by!

  6. My youngest (18) is not a fan of technology (thinks Kindles are soulless, refuses to abbreviate in texts, and only recently has a Facebook account because his friends got tired of waiting and set one up for him). He does watch TV and play some video. I don’t think embedded video would appeal to him.

    For my son and his group of friends it is all about a book that inspires them to read. One friend is currently wading his way through The Rise and Fall of Ancient Room, DS and another friend are reading Infinite Jest. They want books that speak to them and the time the are living in and much of the curriculum in school didn’t fit this (he hated Poisonwood Bible and The Diary of Anne Frank – loved Catch 22 and Hamlet).

    • That’s odd, but in a good way! Most teenagers I’ve come into contact with these days love all kinds of new gadgets and gizmos!

      I used to feel the same way about Kindles, however, I don’t have enough space to store all the books I want, so an e-reader will allow me to continue to feed my habit more

      I definitely understand about tackling books that inspire reading habits. That’s how I initially got into reading, mine was with Star Trek as I was really into it in middle school and was interested in reading more.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I have the Nook, and I love it.
    I think technology has made it easier to read. I know that since I have gotten my Nook, I’ve managed to read a lot more, but there are a lot of people that don’t want anything to do with the concept.
    Things like ipads and such, while I see where you’re coming from, I think that they might be more of a distraction than anything. For me, pulling up a video in the middle of a book, I’d watch the video…then another…and so on. But that’s just my two cents, but this was an interesting post :]

    • My sister has a Nook too and loves it! She’s so glad that she got one! I think I’m pretty much with you on the iPad concept. While being able to look at a related video might be nice, it could, in the long run, turn into a long distraction.


  1. The Harry Potter Effect On Reading | Beltwayliterature - July 17, 2011

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