NOOKs and Other E-readers: Hidden Benefits

You may remember that I have a group of students who are working on mastering the NOOK e-reader. As a school, we purchased 6 color screen NOOKs for use with students. Then came the challenge of figuring out exactly what to do with them. You can read about some of my early struggles with that here.

As we’ve working together, I’ve been discovering some “hidden” benefits of using the e-reader with my more fragile readers.

  • you can adjust the size of the font to suit the reader. No more being intimidated by tiny font or dense text on the page. The students can deal with the text for what it actually is, not for the emotional reaction to the visual impact of the page.
  • you can “feel” momentum (even if you really don’t have much of it). Because of the ability to adjust the font so dramatically, even my most plodding readers can proudly proclaim “I’ve read 20 pages today” or some other rather impressive number. The reality is, if we were comparing to the actual printed book, they didn’t make all that much progress, they don’t have all that much momentum going. But when they “feel” that sense of completing a huge chunk of reading, it creates a sensation of momentum and propels them forward through the next big chunk of reading. Isn’t this how readers are created, really? Momentum is so self-reinforcing. Momentum always seems to create and fuel momentum (or is that the definition of momentum?). I love how the e-reader does this for my readers.
  • the e-reader removes the dread of how much more is still to come. You can’t see the book. You can’t see whether there are 28 pages or 2008 pages. You just read and keep reading. There is no big, fat, unread section taunting you and causing you to doubt yourself as a reader.
  • you can get lost in the reading. This one goes along with the previous one. Because there is no sense of how far you’ve read, or of how far you have yet to read, there is nothing to do except get lost in the reading right where you are. (Okay, that has to the be most confusing sentence ever written). Essentially what I see happening is that the kids lose the sense of how big the book is — they lose the drive to conquer the pages and just push through to be able to say “I’m done”. The book doesn’t bully them with its size or heft or the look of the page or any of the other ways books can bully fragile readers. And so they are free to just get lost in the story. The e-reader is just there. It keeps the book in the present tense — this part, right here. That’s all there is with the e-reader. And so it beckons — dive in and enjoy — get lost in this story, right here. And the kids do.

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