I shall start this post by giving you some background on who I really am. Underneath these corporate looking clothes and carefully straightened hair and sleek, smart looking glasses I am really a child. A competitive, always wanting to do better and be the best (chuck out the rest), thrill seeking, risk taking, success craving and quite often immature child. (I’m sure Anne can back me up on that last bit!)
Now, for today’s post.
Recently Anne and I set ourselves the challenge of reading all of the books from the Australian Children’s Book Week Awards- we all know after all, that I like a challenge. Although a large task, I admit it is not quite of the ilk of Anne’s son and his friend in this post mainly because ours doesn’t require drinking copious amounts of beer or end with the development of a beer gut. (Although the development of a larger rear is a risk if we don’t complete the challenge with appropriate moderation.)
We decided to start with the Younger Readers section of the awards as this would provide us with a database of books we were familiar with that we could then recommend to students in years 5-9. We are also hoping that while reading these books we can read parts of them as a writer and refer to them as mentor texts in the future.
Just like everyone else in this world, Anne and I are very busy people. We find ourselves in a constant battle to divide our time between our 2 loves- our work and our family. This is usually the number one excuse I have developed for myself to explain away my lack of time spent reading fiction books these days. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE reading and have been branded a bookworm for much of my life. Lately though, I have found myself reading non-fiction books for work or reading nothing at all (as I feel guilty taking up time to read for pleasure when I have a PILE of books waiting for me to read for work).
On a slightly different subject, I recently forced myself to start to use my ipad more so I can make an informed revision on my original stance that ipads should NOT replace netbooks in the classroom. I have been madly downloading apps and trying to find ones that will sway me from my original standpoint. One of the apps I downloaded last week was called KOBO. It is an e-reading app that can be downloaded on to any tablet, PC, MAC, ipad or smartphone. I already have 2 e-reading ipad apps- Kindle and ibooks, so am not actually sure why I needed a third but pressed the download button anyway! (I really am turning in to a product of the igreedypig Apple world!) I purchased one of the books from the book week list (Crow Country by Kate Constable) from their site and starting flicking through it within minutes.
Fast forward just one week and I am a fiction reading addict! I cannot put the books (I mean ipad) down! As I woke early to get some reading in before work today I started thinking about what was fuelling my desire to read again. Was it the fact that I am addicted to the screen and anything on it? Was it the ease of purchasing the books from the comfort of my bed? The ability to NEVER lose my page? The ability to read the book on my phone when I don’t have my ipad handy? I think it actually comes back to my original secret- that I am a child on the inside. I love competition and I love to reach goals and targets. KOBO knows this and rewards my continued reading with badges! I have over 10 of them already! I have a badge for starting to read my first book, a badge for finishing my first book, a badge for making a note in a book (I highlighted a part of text I could use as a mentor text), a badge for looking up the meanings of 10 different words while reading (as with Kindle and ibooks- simply click on the word to get a dictionary definition) I also have a badge for reading 5 times between the hours of 7 and 9am (thank goodness for being home sick!) The silly thing is you don’t do anything with them but I still want them! (Proof of the immaturity referred to previously). It is all part of KOBO’s alluring trick- suck you in with easy to achieve badges and then you get hooked on the book itself. You are so caught up in the reading part of it that you don’t even noticing yourself morphing in to a bookworm. (I wonder if there is a badge for that?)
My addiction made me think about reluctant readers and how e-readers could help them. The badges are small and achievable at first and become harder to achieve as you read more. Oh the joys of low hanging fruit! What a great feeling of success you experience when you achieve one! How beneficial it would be for our reluctant reader to experience that feeling of reading-related-success! How beneficial it would be for those readers to flip back to their homepage to see a tally of how many hours and minutes they have spent reading and a graph of the days and hours and all the badges they still have available to earn! What starts as an extrinsically motivated desire to earn badges soon turns in to an intrinsically motivated desire to read more enthralling books.
It goes without saying that KOBO has become my new favourite e-reader (KOBO’s the best, chuck out the rest). At roughly $8 a book so far for the ones I have purchased, I think this wonderful invention could very well be the dawning of a new era in helping reluctant readers to get into reading.
In the future I hope that someone (KOBO- Are you listening??) finally works out that our e-readers need to have the ability to listen to each word read aloud as it is highlighted in the text for our struggling readers to read along. A girl’s allowed to dream isn’t she?
ICT NOTE: There is a small tech/ $$ hurdle to overcome if you are considering using these in the classroom though as, in order to have the most power, the students would need their own personal e-reader rather than share a class one.
Oh well, better be off- have badges to achieve!
BTW- Just finished reading Scott Gardner’s novel ‘The Dead I know’ and really enjoyed it!