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Cinderella’s Online

More and more people are changing the way they think of reading and text.  Tools such as The Kindle and sources such as Google books and Project Gutenberg allow us to access more titles more easily than ever before.  With digital text becoming more and more popular it is no surprise that other companies are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.

According to the New York Times article Disney Tries to Pull the Storybook Ritual Onto the Web by Brooks Barnes The Walt Disney Company is launching a new subscription based website that will offer hundreds of Disney books. Previously Disney only offered a few titles on Kindle and Leapfrog.  Media analyst for Forrester Research, Sarah Rotman Epps, states “They are the first to say, we’re putting our whole catalog online in this one place, and we’re selling it straight to parents.” The site is organized into age groups and levels of reading skills.  Starting with a “look and listen section for beginning readers, where the books will be read aloud by voice actors to accompanying music, with each word highlighted on the screen as it is spoken.”  For children who can read on their own, there is another section and if they find an unfamiliar word they can “click on it and a voice says it aloud.” For teenagers there are chapter books and trivia.  The vice president of digital media, Yves Saada assures concerned parents that “this isn’t going to replace snuggle time with a storybook…We think you can have different reading formats co-existing together.”

Reading this I found myself wondering how this will affect future generation’s perception of digital text.  There is a certain romantic notion to the physical printed book.  People have libraries in their homes and refuse to throw them away.  But if we are conditioned to read digital text from childhood will these nostalgic notions still be there? What will that mean for printed books? Does it matter?

  1. AileenBachant
    October 2nd, 2009 at 21:11 | #1

    I found this Walt Disney reading website to be really interesting. The links you describe that enable young readers to hear the unfamiliar words pronounced aloud is genius and a great learning tool. It will surely encourage children to read on their own, and furthermore, actually look up words that may not be in their vocabularies. The child is far more likely to click on a link than search for a dictionary – online or on the book shelf.

    It seems like you’re pulling for the survival of the printed storybook the same way that I am. I’m confident that they’ll be sticking around. Reading a book with your child is still a very intimate, bonding experience that remains different from reading off of a screen. I think it is possible for the two to coexist.

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