H4: Head, Heart, Hands, & HealthOct 13th, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
By Becky Bennett
It’s National Book Fair month! I remember those days in elementary school when the teacher would hand out the book fair magazine and announce the magical day that the class would be visiting the book fair. Books, magazines, pencils, posters, science experiment kits… there was something for everyone! But with the onset of a new technology boom it has me questioning: is the magical world of book fairs (and printed books in general) becoming a thing of the past?
Electronic books are becoming more popular and large books stores are starting to go out of business. Personally, I am a huge printed book fan but I recently received an electronic reading device as a gift. This device can hold hundreds of books, play audio books, define words, play games, store music, etc. Some of these devices are so advanced that the books you read become almost movie-like with background music, pictures, and character voices. It is amazing how far technology has taken the world of books! The question then becomes is this really beneficial to our youth? Is a world of increasing technology helping or destroying creativity and reading abilities? An argument can be made for both sides and some studies have done just that. The foundations of education and the Essential Elements of 4-H both demonstrate the importance of youth having a sense of Belonging, Independence, Mastery, and Generosity in order to positively develop into contributing citizens. If we remember to treat each child as the individual they are, we can encourage them to take ownership of their learning no matter what form it takes. This will instill a sense of pride and ultimately produce a child who enjoys learning and performs well academically and socially.
There are several different styles of learning and 4-H encourages youth to find the method that works best for them. Think back to a favorite memory from elementary school that involved reading; what were you doing? Were you listening to a teacher read a story out loud imitating characters and creating an imaginary scene that you were positive you could see with your very own eyes? Maybe you were physically acting out the story with a group. Or perhaps you were sitting quietly on your own completely engrossed in a story, exploring that new world as if you were the main character. Whatever your memory is you enjoyed what you were doing and it made enough of an impact that you remember it to this day. Youth today have their preferred method of learning just as we did when we were in school. The only difference is their options include advanced forms of technology. So whether you are for or against the influx of e-books and the like, encourage youth to explore all of their options when it comes to reading and learning. If a child seems more engaged and performs better by reading from a computer, then by all means encourage that child to do so! Because if you criticize their successful efforts then you are planting a negative seed of doubt in their life and you never know how much damage you are causing with that one opinion. As my high school literature teacher used to say, “Don’t take a bite out of someone else’s cookie…it may be their last.”
Will we start seeing e-books and electronic reading devices become a popular item at book fairs and libraries? Who knows, but if it helps just one kid become a life-long learner then bring it on…just keep around those printed books for us “old school” types.
Becky V. Bennett
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Employment Opportunity—Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating.