Last night, we were all exhausted but I really wanted potato salad. So while the eggs boiled and the potatoes cooked, Future President watched Chuggington (side note: I didn’t think a train show more annoying than Thomas could exist, yet there it is!), I played Candy Crush and my husband read a book.
“What are you doing, Daddy?” Future President asked, because normally the appearance of an iPad means YouTube videos of model trains. “I’m reading a book,” replied my husband. Future President expected the lion and the horse at the top of the page to start moving when he touched them, but other than that, he took the response in stride. To him, it’s perfectly normal for everything to be stored in a small object like an iPad. He will never know a time when reading books required possessing the physical object. And while our preference is to read physical books to him, it’s entirely possible that by the time he is reading himself, he will prefer eBooks.
When I read that Encyclopaedia Britannica was ceasing publication of its print edition, it made me a little sad. Sad that my son will likely never retreat to the library to read those brief entries about anything from armadillos to the Trans-Siberian Railway or have to fill in worksheets at school based on library reference assignments that teach kids how to use a dictionary or an encyclopedia and a table of contents and an index. To me, this is a huge loss because of the lack of understanding at how information is organized. Maybe it’s because I’m a librarian that I wax nostalgic at this loss or because when practicing law, it is integral to the understanding of statutory language that a researcher understand how laws are organized and relate to each other. Merely Googling something gives a reader zero context, and while Wikipedia has linked articles from entries, it just isn’t the same thing.
I am usually one to love technological advances, and while I’m excited to see how my son will be studying literature and math and science – will he still use textbooks? take notes on a tablet and store them in the cloud? – I am sad too, because I love print and the education that comes from simply picking up a book and flipping through it.