Parents and Children Prefer Reading Print Books Together Over E-Books, Study Finds





Parents and children both prefer reading print books to e-books when they read together, according to a new study released today.

Nearly three-quarters of iPad owners who read e-books with their children prefer reading print books with them to e-books; and about half of children say the same thing. Meanwhile, less than 10% of both children and parents prefer to read e-books when they read together, according to the study produced by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a New York-based non-profit dedicated to studying and promoting children’s reading. About 40% of children and 20% of parents like reading both equally. (See several charts below.)

Digital Book World first reported preliminary results of the study in May. In a much less authoritative online poll Digital Book World conducted at the time, nearly 90% of our 93 respondents confirmed they preferred reading print books to their children.

“Parent-child interaction around reading is an experience that is treasured,” said Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “Parents of this demographic have had the experience of creating their literacy habits through a lifetime and these are happy memories. They want their children to have that warm, nurturing experience when reading books.”

Levine’s comments suggest a cycle that could last generations — of memories reading with parents as children affecting reading experience decisions. (That is, one reads in print with their children because that’s what they did as a kid; and then that child growing up and reading to their children in print because that’s what they did as a kid.) The ease with which formative and memorable children’s books like Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears are given as gifts to young families only reinforces this notion.

But the convenience of digital reading might be an entry way for digital publishers into this market.

When traveling, more parents prefer reading e-books with their children than print books (about 40% versus about 25%). About four of five parents who read e-books with their children say they “sometimes” or “often” give their children an e-book to read on their own if they are busy.

Still, when it comes to e-books, parents are still somewhat wary — especially when it comes to the fancy bells and whistles commonly found in children’s enhanced e-books.

A majority of parents who read e-books to with their children on their iPads believe that games and videos in e-books do more to distract their child from reading than help them learn to read. Nearly half of parents believe that animation is distracting, too.

“There are issues with a lot of electronic books causing a certain amount of distraction,” said Levine. “They can be very engaging but can also be distracting for young children.”

Despite these findings, publishers of children’s e-books should be encouraged by what the parents in the study didn’t say. Of the 1,226 parents who completed the survey, 462 (38%) own iPads and, of those, 335 (73%) read books to their children on the device. There seems to be a possibility of a market.

“There’s another market that’s been opened here,” said Levine. “There’s no doubt that folks who are developing iPad apps and e-books should be encouraged by the level of activity that we find.”

Children’s e-book and app publishers have been reacting to parents’ perceptions of distracting features and the perceived need for reading experiences that build literacy and a love of reading.

Ruckus Media, a start-up children’s e-book and app publisher, has built a reading platform that emphasizes reading and learning. Wanderful, a reboot of the successful Living Books series from the early 1990s published by Broderbund (now part of trade and educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), emphasizes that its e-books lack the kinds of distractions that take children out of the reading experience.

Earlier research from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center suggested that children retain less content during enhanced e-book reading experiences than with print books or non-enhanced e-books.

Growth in revenues for children’s digital publishing has been huge in the early part of 2012, according to figures reported by the Association of American Publishers — driven at least in part by the success of Young Adult e-books such as The Hunger Games. Year-to-date through May, children’s digital publishing revenues are up nearly 300% versus the same period in 2011.





All charts published with permission from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center.


For Those Who Want to Lead, Read


by John Coleman 

When David Petraeus visited the Harvard Kennedy School in 2009, one of the meetings he requestedwas with author Doris Kearns Goodwin. Petraeus, who holds a PhD in International Relations from Princeton, is a fan of Team of Rivals and wanted time to speak to the famed historian about her work. Apparently, the great general (and current CIA Director) is something of a bibliophile.

He’s increasingly an outlier. Even as global literacy rates are high (84%), people are reading less and less deeply. The National Endowment for the Arts (PDF) has found that “[r]eading has declined among every group of adult Americans,” and for the first time in American history, “less than half of the U.S. adult American population is reading literature.” Literacy has been improving in countries like India and China, but that literacy may not translate into more or deeper reading.

This is terrible for leadership, where my experience suggests those trends are even more pronounced. Business people seem to be reading less — particularly material unrelated to business. But deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.

Note how many business titans are or have been avid readers. According to The New York Times, Steve Jobs had an “inexhaustible interest” in William Blake; Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that in it you have to take off your shoes and bow; and Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman called poets “the original systems thinkers,” quoting freely from Shakespeare and Tennyson. In Passion & Purpose, David Gergen notes that Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein reads dozens of books each week. And history is littered not only with great leaders who were avid readers and writers (remember, Winston Churchill won his Nobel prize in Literature, not Peace), but with business leaders who believed that deep, broad reading cultivated in them the knowledge, habits, and talents to improve their organizations.

The leadership benefits of reading are wide-ranging. Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight. Some studies have shown, for example, that reading makes you smarter through “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills.” Reading — whether Wikipedia, Michael Lewis, or Aristotle — is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. Many business people claim that reading across fields is good for creativity. And leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to their organizations are more likely to innovate and prosper.

Reading can also make you more effective in leading others. Reading increases verbal intelligence (PDF), making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others — traits that author Anne Kreamer persuasively linked to increased organizational effectiveness, and to pay raises and promotions for the leaders who possessed these qualities. And any business person understands that heightened emotional intelligence will improve his or her leadership and management ability.

Finally, an active literary life can make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health. For stressed executives, reading is the best way to relax, as reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%, and some studies suggest reading may even fend off Alzheimer’s, extending the longevity of the mind.

Reading more can lead to a host of benefits for business people of all stripes, and broad, deep reading can make you a better leader. So how can you get started? Here are a few tips:

    • Join a reading group. One of my friends meets bimonthly with a group of colleagues to read classics in philosophy, fiction, history, and other areas. Find a group of friends who will do the same with you.


    • Vary your reading. If you’re a business person who typically only reads business writing, commit to reading one book this year in three areas outside your comfort zone: a novel, a book of poetry, or a nonfiction piece in science, biography, history, or the arts.


    • Apply your reading to your work. Are you struggling with a problem at work? Pick up a book on neuroscience or psychology and see if there are ways in which you can apply the lessons from those fields to your profession.


    • Encourage others. After working on a project with colleagues, I’ll often send them a book that I think they’ll enjoy. Try it out; it might encourage discussion, cross-application of important lessons, and a proliferation of readers in your workplace.


  • Read for fun. Not all reading has to be developmental. Read to relax, escape, and put your mind at ease.


Reading has many benefits, but it is underappreciated as an essential component of leadership development. So, where have you seen reading benefit your life? What suggestions would you have for others seeking to grow their leadership through reading?

Books are a tonic for the Brain


Reading is not just another leisurely activity or a way of brushing up your literacy skills and factual knowledge – it acts as a tonic for the brain too.

Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield suggests that reading helps to expand attention spans in kids. “Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end – a structure that encourages our brains to think in sequence, to link cause, effect and significance,” she says.

“It is essential to learn this skill as a small child, while the brain has more plasticity, which is why it’s so important for parents to read to their children. The more we do it, the better we get at it,” Greenfield added.

Reading can enrich our relationships by increasing our understanding of other cultures and helping us learn to empathise, the Daily Mail reports.

“In a computer game, you might have to rescue a princess, but you don’t care about her, you just want to win,” explains Greenfield. “But a princess in a book has a past, present and future, she has connections and motivations. We can relate to her. We see the world through her eyes.”

John Stein, emeritus professor of neuroscience at Magdalen College, Oxford, says reading is far from a passive activity. “Reading exercises the whole brain,” he explains. Reading stories to children will help their brains develop the ability to analyse the cause, effect and significance of events

In 2009, a brain-imaging study in the US showed that reading about landscapes, sounds, smells and tastes, activates brain areas tied to these experiences in real life, creating new neural pathways. Simply stated, our brains simulate real experiences, which doesn’t happen when you’re watching TV or playing computer games.

In 2009, University of Sussex researchers showed how six minutes of reading can slash stress levels by more than two-thirds, more than listening to music or going out for a walk.

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Newsline » Blog Archive » Following the Reader

Book_reading11-10The low literacy level aside, Pakistanis are increasingly reading everything that comes their way. Pakistan is a dichotomy. Tragedy and triumph, development and destruction. With events unfolding at a rapid pace, Pakistan is a story a minute. And to keep abreast, there is a new awareness among its people, a growing need to know.

This is evident in the reading trends that have emerged in recent times. “Reading habits have picked up lately,” says Francis DeSouza, senior manager of Liberty Books at Park Towers, Karachi. “Why? Because of the media. With so many talk shows holding serious discussions these days, everybody wants to know what’s going on in the world. They want to know about everything that’s being spoken of around them. So reading trends of political books have especially gone up,” he says.

A brief survey of best-selling books in popular bookshops in Karachi and Lahore testify to his observation. Waqarul Haq, assistant manager at Vanguard Books, Lahore, reveals that political and current affairs books are the most demanded genre in his store these days. “Fatima Bhutto’s book Songs of Blood and Sword, Taliban by Ahmed Rashid and Flight of the Falcon by Sajjad Haider, are all in high demand these days,” he says. “Even foreigners are interested in buying such books.”

Founder of the Readers Club, an online book rental service that loans unlimited books to members for a nominal fee, Usman Siddiqui contends: “We, as a nation, have a love for conspiracy theories. So the Taliban and such subjects are very popular. We have dozens of books on politics that are popular reads, such as those by Fareed Zakaria and those on the topic of 9/11. But we try to carry a large selection of biographies too.”

Understandably so. Biographies seem to be high up on the list of best-selling books. With so much exposure of foreign affairs via the media, local figures aren’t the only people Pakistanis are interested in. “For example, Tony Blair’s biography was recently launched, but before the book even came out, we had a lot of people signing up in advance to book themselves a copy,” says Mohsin Ali, another senior manager of Liberty Books at The Forum, Karachi.

Aside from political affairs that have increasingly compelled people to pick up non-fiction books, other changes in Pakistan have also allowed for other trends to emerge in the reading patterns of our society. Many English-writing Pakistani authors have emerged in the literary field in the last decade. Prior to their existence, fiction was a popular genre, but the books that sold were written by foreign authors who wrote of foreign people and cultures. With the growing emergence of local and regional authors – Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan – there is a whole new world that has opened up to the local reader – and it is a familiar world, comprising places and cultures they can relate to. But this magnifying interest in local authors has created a supply and demand problem. “We have a large demand for Asian authors such as Rohinton Mistry from India and our own Mohsin Hamid,” says Ali. “A lot of people enjoy keeping track of the works of local authors. However, the problem is with their yield. They don’t produce as many novels as foreign authors do. For example, Danielle Steele comes out with a new novel every three months, but Kamila Shamsie’s last novel came out nearly two years ago,” he adds.

That said, the demand for modern and classic fiction is still very much alive. “People always read Jane Austen and D.H. Lawrence, but I feel like the circle is growing wider,” says Ali. “There is a growing awareness and even schools are playing their role in encouraging reading habits. They give reading assignments other than course books, such as the works of Oscar Wilde. It opens new vistas for them rather than TV or movies or games, and positively impacts their personalities.”

A factor that influences sales of books in Pakistan is when it is learnt that successful new film releases are based on published books. Many people come seeking those books. “Movies such as Eat Pray Love and The Last Song are all books-turned-movies, and as soon as people watch them, they come asking for the book,” says DeSouza. Due to the accessibility of the Internet, avid readers are also aware of Booker-Prize winners, and as soon as they hear of popular books by these authors, the demand for them suddenly increases.

Religion is another genre that has aroused the interest of many Pakistanis in current times. The creeping religious intolerance and fundamentalism has got many people wanting to probe Islam and its values. “While religion has not traditionally been a top-selling genre, people are increasingly interested in it,” says Ali. “Sufism is one of the most popular subjects in the category; Sadia Dehlvi’s book on Sufism was in high demand in the past days and did very well,” he says.

One category that doesn’t seem to be doing so well in Pakistan’s bookstores anymore is that of Urdu literature. “There is still a demand for Urdu books but not as much as there used to be before. We used to have a big range of Urdu books, but gradually the demand waned, so we keep a much smaller selection now,” says DeSouza. Siddiqui adds to this by saying, “People who still read Urdu literature, read classics and old authors such as Manto and Rajinder Singh Bedi, as there is very little new quality Urdu literature being written nowadays.” There is also a new trend in Pakistan: to make TV dramas out of books, such as those by Razia Butt and Umera Ahmad, which prove relatively popular. “The new Urdu literature tends to be more for commercial reasons and public consumption,” says Siddiqui. “So even though there is some new Urdu literature being written by contemporary authors, it is not of the same quality or high standards as older books,” he says. Furthermore, Urdu book sales are only common in a niche category. “Generally, Urdu readership consists of those over 40. Not very many young readers are interested in Urdu literature anymore,” Siddiqui notes.

While the bulk of readers are of age 20 and up, most bookshops, proprietors and salespeople interviewed for this article noted a new trend on the rise. “Nowadays, you will find young parents coming in with their toddlers in prams. The kids may not understand anything, but the parents are showing them books with colours and pictures,” laughs DeSouza. He adds, “It’s good; they buy their children these books. It will get them in the habit of reading.” And nowadays, book fairs on school premises tend to be very successful. “Children do buy books at our bookfairs. And even if they don’t buy them, they browse through them,” says DeSouza. And it is encouraging to note, as Siddiqui reports, that a lot of parents have signed up their children with the Readers Club. “We saw a major uptake in children’s memberships during the summer holidays. Unfortunately, once school starts, children become so bogged down with their curriculum, that they don’t get much time to read for leisure,” Siddiqui says.

As far as magazine trends go, fashion seems to be the most popular genre locally, especially for women. “Libas and Cosmopolitan are some of our best-selling magazines. Newsweek and The Economist sell well too, but generally speaking, magazine sales are comparatively low nowadays,” says DeSouza. He explains that ever since publications have started going online, people would rather read them on the Internet as magazine prices are quite high.

There is a perception that ever since inexpensive roadside booksellers and cartshops have been largely replaced by fancy, state-of-the-art bookstores, book-buying, and consequently the habit of reading, has become an “elitist” activity – something that only the rich can afford to do. This however, proves to be fallacious in the light of what booksellers reveal. “Reading is in no way limited to the more affluent sections of society. I think our biggest membership block if you look area wise, is in Gulshan, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and North Nazimabad. Initially our members were mostly from Defence and Clifton. But when word of our facility spread, it dispelled the notion that reading was limited to a certain section of society,” says Siddiqui.

While reading may still be confined to just a few in Pakistan given the literary level here, most bookstore owners are optimistic about it being on the upswing. “Five years ago, people did not read as much, especially the youth. But I see more and more people coming back towards it,” says Ali. And that can only be a good thing.

This article is written by Zara Farooqui and was published in Newsline.