The eyes have it

In the fall of 2007, in a dentist’s office, I reluctantly picked up an issue of Time magazine with a picture of a first generation amazon Kindle on the cover.  If I’d had anything else to read, I’d have read something else. I wanted to pretend that the electronic reader wasn’t happening.  I read the cover story with great fear and sadness.

I’m still not crazy about it, but I own a Kindle now. I read a lot and I discovered that the Kindle’s e-ink is easier on my eyes than all but the largest of print books.  It took me many months to convince myself it was worth it, though, and I continue to miss books even as I tear through file after file on my non-book.

No matter your opinions, beliefs, sentiments about electronic publishing, here’s something to consider.  If you know a child who wants very much to be able to read longer denser books than she can so far, and if her struggle has to do with losing track of where the words are on the page, which line comes next, or a feeling of overwhelm at the length, it may be worth trying an electronic reader with e-ink.  (One can read on an iPad or other tablet too, of course, but if the vision and tracking part of reading is at all an issue, the e-ink will likely be more effective. Also, for those of us who are easily distracted, a reader that’s just a reader, free of potentially sidetracking apps, is likely a better choice for this particular purpose.)

With an electronic reader, you can have as many words as you like on the screen at once.  This means less to manage in the way of visual input.  This feature may also help make it possible for young people to listen to audio books and follow along in the printed text (because it’s harder to get lost when there are fewer words on the “page”).  And if you lose your place you can run a search on a particular phrase from the audio and pick up where you left off or got lost in the “print” version. The issue of overwhelm at a book’s length obviously disappears when you only see a bit of it at a time.

I’m not saying  I like it.  I’m just saying it’s worth a look for your struggling reader, if the features offered by such a device might make a difference…