October 25, 2010

Why make books?

      Of course with all of the books in the KBN library available for convenient, on-screen or on-projector reading in the classroom some may wonder why we continue to emphasize the importance of making KBN books on paper.
      Is that not perhaps obsolete?
      Actually it’s just the opposite.
      First, only the on-paper book gives the young reader the experience of a book as a solid object of content and value. Not just another form of flowing video.    
     The concrete, on-paper book gives the young reader-learner a much stronger way to become engaged with the concept of book, and to bond with the meaning of the story. In terms of Piaget’s views on both the preoperational and concrete operational stages of cognitive development, it accelerates the ability of the reader to construct a stronger, more useful schema of what a book is and what it may hold.
      It serves to deepen, as well, the experience of reading satisfaction, and strengthens the reader’s ability to absorb and retain the specific story or information content.

      Reading an authentic on-paper, page-turning book also provides a unique platform for the developing reader to read the story over and over. It enables the reader to reinforce “learning” in terms of text recognition and, in the case of early reading development, it supports better character and word recognition as well.
      Recent studies on the learning impact of handwriting exercises in contrast to typing exercises provide an illuminating parallel. A 2008 study reported in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience showed that the physical experience of hand-writing characters on paper leads to better and longer-lasting visual recognition of these same characters later.
      The importance of the direct sensory connection of the reader with the book in his or her hands, and the kinesthetic experience of turning pages, cannot be overemphasized.
      Plus, when you learn how you can actually make copies of a book that you like, well, that’s pretty darn exciting. And color the book yourself? That’s so much fun, too.
      Suddenly it’s not so difficult to see how the close connection with a physical book you make yourself and you can carry around in your backpack might help children place a higher value on both the book and the experience.
      Q. How did Johannes Gutenberg become such a great reader?
      A. He made his own books.

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