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So how can we use this multimedia reading approach at home? We still sit on the bed and read an "ink" copy of a book with our child or let them read it independently. But now the tablet market is coming to life and kids are going to soak up reading on their brand new devices. We're betting big on iBooks coming to the iPad just as my kids have their music on their iPods. Children's books with illustrations are making their way quickly onto these emerging platforms. These are populations that are still "learning to read."
We are embracing the content on new technologies as well. We look for children's series with multiple books and multimedia choices. For example, we are exploring animated books for one of our children who loves cartoons, so he can watch the stories unfold and follow the words as he goes along. The dynamic nature of animated books motivates him to read more and content can be downloaded immediately. The NOW factor is huge - if our child wants to continue reading or find the next book in the series, we can capitalize on it, buy it, and tell him he has it ready for tomorrow.
A very good friend said, "I just got this Kindle and I am not sharing it. It will get ruined by smudgy hands." I responded, "But you just said you are concerned with your daughter's poor grades on her book reports -- what if letting her read on your Kindle would motivate her?" She let her use the Kindle for the next book report and her grade rose dramatically. As all our children are asking for iPods, iTouches, and other devices, we need to take the opportunity to insist the device is used for reading as well. Insert the content that you know they need.
As parents, we have to look at reading as two things -- a gift and a tool. My oldest loves to read on her Kindle, a beloved Christmas gift. These tablets are the reading devices of the future. Adult books have been moved and consumed at an alarming speed and young adult content is following rapidly. These populations are reading for enjoyment and some read to learn as well. As the devices are able to handle color and illustrations, this market will explode with demand for children.
Ink books will always have a place in our hearts as the classic way to read and bond with our kids. But in 2011, we must also embrace technology and use multimedia approaches to keep our kids hooked on reading.
Eileen Wacker, a Harvard Business School graduate, lived and worked in seven different countries, including the United States. Wacker now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii, with her husband and four children, one of whom is a daughter adopted from China. She is the author of the new children's book, "Silent Samurai and the Magnificent Rescue," the third installment of the Mom's Choice Award-winning Fujimini Adventure Series. For further information on the series, please visit www.oncekids.com.