reading with kidsLaura Hazard Owen has a great review up at GigaOM on an intriguing new book on reading with kids, by former GalleyCat editor Jason Boog. The book, called ‘Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age — From Picture Books to Ebooks and Everything in Between,’ has strategies for reading with your kids, no matter what the medium.

Boog proposes that not all reading is created equal. He proposes a reading style he calls ‘Interactive Reading’ where parents, well, guide the reading process through use of prompting questions, highlighting ways your child can identify with the characters and so on. This was all familiar to me; we teachers call this ‘guided reading’ and it’s been part of most reading programs for years.

What seems to differentiate this book is that Boog proposes applying these same strategies to reading digitally. You shouldn’t just turn your child loose on an iPad app. They can get distracted by animations, in-app purchase prompts and other bells and whistles. You can optimize their experience by coaching them just as you would with paper.

I appreciated the perspective Ms. Owen added to the dialogue via her review. She has a child herself, and points out—correctly—that some parents may find the notion that reading to your children involves this much work to be a little intimidating. And she adds too that you want to be careful not to make ALL reading this chore-intensive. There is benefit to letting your child just enjoy a book!

I spent the month of July taking a professional development course for teachers on the teaching of literacy, and I can affirm that the current research in the field of education favours a ‘balanced literacy’ approach. Sometimes, you want to carefully select a book for its educational properties, study it in great depth and enhance the experience with crafts and activities, and really wring out everything you can from it. But the ‘balance’ part means that you also let them have opportunities to pick their own books, to read them during school time, to pick a book for you to read to them that doesn’t get studied or analyzed and is just about enjoying a fun little book. It’s like having a puzzle to put together. You need to have all the different pieces!