Could E-Readers Help to Make Reading Cool?

Let's face it: kids love gadgets. Almost any type of portable electronic device invariably wins them over. Put an iPod in their hands and they'll download music. Put a cellphone in their hands and they'll text their friends. Put a Kindle in their hands and they' Apparently so. Are e-readers actually helping to make reading cool?

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E-Readers Luring the Younger Generation

Getting kids to read may not always be an easy proposition, but lately it's gotten a whole lot easier. And parents have technology to thank for it.

Many electronic devices are aimed at adolescents, or at least are embraced first by kids and only later sought by their parents. But in the case of e-readers like the Kindle or Nook, adults were utilizing these devices before their kids started to show an interest. And interested they are: when the Young Adult Library Services Association ran a pilot program earlier this year wherein teens were allowed to check out Kindles, the response was largely positive.

E-readers are increasingly being marketed to the younger crowd. The Kindle is now sold at Toys R Us and Barnes and Noble introduced NOOK Kids last year, which offers a large collection of children's picture books and interactive stories.

'Hot, Hot, Hot'

Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, told The New York Times in February 2011: 'Adult fiction is hot, hot, hot in e-books. And now it seems that teen fiction is getting to be hot, hot, hot.'

In early 2011, nearly one-third of bestsellers for e-readers were titles for younger readers. Sales of young-adult e-books from HarperCollins have more than quadrupled in the past year, while those of St. Martin's Press have more than tripled.

What's more, sales figures of teen-oriented e-books don't even take into account adult books that teens might be reading. Thus, kids could be reading even more than is being realized!

'Boy, a Lot of Kids Got E-Readers for Christmas'

It seems that e-readers are becoming such a hit with kids that some are actually asking for the devices as gifts.

When the sales of young adult e-book titles doubled after the holidays last year, publishing executive Jon Anderson of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing told The New York Times: 'Boy, a lot of kids got e-readers for Christmas.' A mother in Harrison, NY, also told the Times that her 11-year-old daughter asked for a Kindle for Christmas.

Some kids like the ease with which e-readers can be carried around; others like the large number of titles that can be downloaded. But whatever the reasons, the devices - once coveted exclusively by adults - are getting kids interested in books.

It's hard to say whether e-readers will continue to hold the attention of easily-bored tweens and teens, but we'll hold off on debating that topic for now. Let's keep it down while the kids take their Kindles and their Nooks and go off to read.

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