Can Books Help Kids Better Cope with Digital Multitasking?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

child on computer

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story by Sharon Glassman features an interview with Antonio Faeti of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, who discusses the role kids books have in the digital age. Among his arguments — which include describing kids books as a kind of vitamin 2.0 — Faeti cites a study done at the University of London that prescribes exposing infants to picture books starting at five months of age as a way of helping them “manage a high-stimulus society.” A brain formed on multi-layered images will be more prepared to tackle the mental double-espresso of multi-tasking in years to come, this argument says.

As the father of a young daughter who spends a great deal of time flipping through Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry books (not to mention piles of other, lesser kids books), I can certainly attest to the fact that these titles are indeed filled with “multi-layered” imagery. Some might even call the illustrations “busy.” In fact, the more intricate the illustration in a book, the more my daughter seems drawn to it. So, indeed, Faeti’s citation would seem to hold true. That said, I’m curious if your experience reading to young children is the same? And do you believe that, by extension that e-books — which can offer moving images, which are therefore more innately complex — offer even greater opportunities for kids to learn to cope? Or is there a tipping point where “learning and engagement” turns into “distraction and disaffection?” Children’s publisher Scholastic seems to think multi-taking in and of itself is a bad idea…as do a great many others.

Let us know what you think in the comments below or via Twitter using #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.