When I read Blueberries for Sal to my own children at home, I make sure to connect them to the fact that I spent every summer in a town near where Sal lives. They've been there too and we talk about collecting blueberries and going on the boat to Buck's Harbor, Maine. They look at this book differently than, say, a child who lives in Ohio. I make this connection because, well, I know how they will connect. I know them. They are my children.
I feel this way about my classroom. I read books that I hope will connect them to their lives and to each other. My ability to help them connect closely makes me a good teacher. That is what good teaching is, creating connections. The brain cannot learn if it doesn't connect new information to previously learned information.
So when I read this article, I had to stop in my tracks and really think about the future of our children.
Why Books are Better Than E-Books for Children
I was in a staff meeting at my school yesterday where it was announced for the second or third time that we were to save our budget money so that our principal could buy more iPads for the school. She said, and I quote, "We can buy way more books for the iPads than for each classroom and this is the wave of the future. Kids can read Blueberries for Sal on the iPad and the digital imagery is great. Plus it has interactive features to help kids stay connected."
Huh? Hold on...
I sometimes feel like I live in an alternate universe. I get that technology is great. I'm a blogger after all. BUT, on what planet is the size, shape, and SCREEN of every book a child will hold, the same size as an iPad. How can an interactive program know that my child has BEEN to Blue Hill Maine? How are these computers helping kids they don't know make connections to their own lives. This just can't happen.
I don't know how to reconcile this in my mind. I have to order new books for my classroom. This year has been a struggle as a new first grade teacher because I have to borrow and beg for books so that my kids can grow as independent readers. They need lots of choice and voice and to be able to hold the book and test out the words and pictures. They really can't do that with an iPad. I sometimes go to a bookstore just to browse before I order something for home or my Kindle because I need to test out the language, the author's style. Holding a book is different. They are different sizes and colors. Work goes into how a book looks, its font, its illustrations, its size, the heft of its paper.
Clearly I could go on and on. I am upset. I think I might be upset enough to start a separate blog helping parents become more informed with what really happens in their children's schools. I talk with enough parents about what happens in my school to know that they are surprised by the things teachers are told to do.
I am too. Very surprised.