Toddlers and Tablets

Image by K. Sluiter

I am an English teacher.

I have my degree in reading and writing.

I love words. Printed words. On paper.

I swore I would never ever get a Kindle or a Nook. Not me. I would always get real  books. And my kids? They would have a huge collection of actual books and they would love them.

Yup, this romantic literary vision worked for us. Until books started piling up and our house began to look like a very specialized episode of Hoarder…When Literature Attacks.

This past Christmas I caved and asked for (and received) a Nook. But my rules were specific:  I would read books I didn’t feel like I absolutely had to own in the flesh…er…paper. AND NO KIDS ON THE NOOK.

I don’t know why I was so possessed by this. I am a teacher who not just embraces technology in the classroom as a way to get the kids more engaged, but advocates for it in the face of opposition from old crusty those teachers who aren’t as tech-savvy.

But at home, with my own two-year old, I wanted him to love real books. With pages.

So I got a Nook. And my husband got a tablet. And we did our screen-type stuff happily.

Until Eddie saw books on a friend’s Nook. And he was wonderfully distracted by it. And getting involved in the book in a way he didn’t when we read a paper book.


My husband later found a bunch of interactive Dr. Seuss books for his tablet. My son was in love.

Every night at bedtime he would ask, “Daddy?  We read a book on your new book?”

It got to be that he didn’t want me to put him to bed because he wanted to have his books read on a screen. Daddy’s screen. That is when I started looking for children’s books on my Nook. Books themselves were expensive…and not interactive, so instead I went to the book apps that my husband used for his tablet.

For less than a dollar each, I put a bunch of Mercer Mayer books on my Nook (via Oceanhouse Media apps) and for just over a dollar, I got the Dr. Seuss books (using the same app for Nook).

My son enjoys turning the pages, touching the words so he can have them reread to him, and touching the pictures and having the word of what that picture is pop up.  He is even starting to read along with them…although it’s from memorization rather than reading, but I know that word recognition follows memorization.

He’s not even three.

I also found some really inexpensive learning games:  matching, puzzles, drawing/coloring, and letter tracing.  He can sit for twenty minute stretches working on his letters and colors.

My husband has also put some games/learning apps on his tablet including alphabet practice and I Spy type games…all of which were free.

Did all these wonderful things change my mind about paper books?

No.  In fact, we have a compromise when I put him to bed that we can do screen books upstairs on the couch, but we read paper books in bed.

I like the interaction my son has with the screen books, but I want to teach him the value of being able to flip back and relook at something on paper.

I want him to love to hold a new book. To appreciate the differences in weight and shape and color and texture of picture and story books.

I want him to run his fingers over illustrations in wonder…and not have the page turn or a narrator read what the picture is.

I want him to love books.

And I want him to love reading.

I know to keep him interested, I need to keep up with technology and the interests of his generation.

But there is something in me that will never let go of real books.

And hopefully he will appreciate me for that.


  1. I have the same thoughts and plans for our kids.

  2. It is good that children should interact with technology but they must be used less and more direct interaction should be there

  3. It is good that children should use the new technology but they must be provided more direct interaction with parents


  1. […] bed” on a charging station in the kitchen. Electronics are not allowed in bedrooms. No tablets, phones, ipods, […]