Fairy_Tales_(Boston_Public_Library)The adult-targeted e-book world often forgets that one barrier to entry into this ecosystem is…well, knowing how to read.

I have written before about learn-to-read apps and other kid-focused goodies. But getting a kid ready to read actual, text-based stories is a more involved process than we sometimes realize. One of my little loved ones recently came home with a booklet he made at school which was all about the letter A, for instance. We asked him if there were going to be some other books too, and he confidently replied that there were not. They cut the pages, they stapled them, it went into the special folder, and that was it. DONE! Poor little guy has no idea what he is in for!

My Book Riot feed had another take on the kid-friendly book market. Annika Baranti Klein writes about her child’s love of comic books. He was a late reader. She feels he still needs the picture help. She is happy to let him read as much as he chooses. He’ll get to harder books later, or he won’t. But at least he’s made a start.

Personally, I do not believe in restricting the genres children read. I’d like to think the Beloved and I are the kind of family who would never say no when a child asks us to provide a book for them. Reading is reading, at these early stages. I am happy for them to practice their skills on whatever material they wish, and to develop a love and interest in books.

So, when do the e-books come in? Earlier than you might think; I have several students who are not the best readers ever, but love technology. I can see the carrot of getting their own device being a good incentive for a child like that. I would happily buy a cheap tablet—for both books and other purposes—for even a very young kid. But as they get older, I would have to set some limits on the non-book activities they do. You want to spend an hour buried under blankets reading a Kindle book? Fine. But I reserve the right to limit your YouTube and gaming time!

One strategy that I have recommended to several parents is a family read-together time. I had a student who was a good reader, but an easily distracted one and needed to build up her stamina for longer books. I told her mom to get out a book herself, then set a timer. For twenty minutes, they both could read together. E-book or paper, it doesn’t matter. Just model the habit of enjoying a book!

Image credit: Here.


  1. Reading is a skill that takes both learning and practice. To get a child reading, find something they are interested in and help them find books to further that interest.

    In grade school I wanted to read Frankenstein. It was not in the children’s section of the library. The rule was that if it wasn’t in the children’s section and you could find it int the card catalog in the adult section and use the Dewey Decimal System to find it on the shelves, you could take it out.

    I found it and went to take it out. The librarian said that I couldn’t since it wasn’t suitable for children. I went home and told my mother. We went back to the library and the librarian explained that Frankenstein was not suitable for children and that I could not take it out on my library card, but my mother could take it out on hers.

    Mother proceeded to read the librarian the riot act over censorship. Bottom line was that I was allowed to take out Frankenstein or any other book on my library card.

    I read part way through Frankenstein before I got bored and took it back to the library. The experience taught me several things. The power of words in print. That not all books are interesting once you get into them. It also improved my reading skills and vocabulary. It also taught me the futility of censorship.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.