In this essay, I will be exploring the change in children’s books over time and how this may have led to the various constructions in childhood. With the use of key theoretical ideas, I will explain how my chosen object affects a child’s development whether in school or within the family. This will help me analyse the many different aspects of change and the impact it has on both the child and the family.
Books are designed to help children with development of both language and skills. The variety of books such as story books, picture books, text books and test/quiz books can be crucial for a child when they begin to learn new things as this can speed up the cognitive process. For example, books can help children absorb their alphabet by making learning fun through various forms of art such as vibrant images and bold texts to create a sense of excitement. This entail accelerates the child’s knowledge as they can begin to engage in new vocabulary and language and feasibly use words already know to them in a more intuitive way. Therefore, reading books is a fantastic way of encouraging toddlers to engage in books before they start nursery/school, thus prepare them for the school environment.’ Reading comprehension is critical for long-term academic success and is dependent on language abilities that emerge early in life. When all goes well, these early language experiences fuel effective reading comprehension among school-aged children and young adults.'(Dickinson, D., Griffith, J., Golinkoff, R. and Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2012) This therefore shows the importance of books in a child’s cognitive development as it prepares them for education and improves comprehensive skills.
However now the introduction of eBooks has changed this as it allows children to both read and listen to books through a mobile phone, tablet/iPad or laptop. This shows how the change in books has been drastic over time as before children would sit down open a paper book and read now books can be accessed digitally and read to them by an automated voice. eBooks encourage interactivity as they give children that independence they need to research and feel more confident in doing things on their own. Some argue that eBooks have drastically changed the way in which children read whilst others argue that its simply stayed the same and has had little to no change. However now it is more preferred by children to use eBooks as studies have shown it creates a unique reading experience for them as children can enjoy the various features of tablets and such devices e.g games, puzzles, apps and eBooks. ( Schreurs, K. (vol. 8, no. 2 (2013)) This is because of the social constructions in society. Preferences of whether a child reads a book vs an eBook differ between societies, within societies and overtime. Some societies depend on technology as it is ‘with the times’ whilst other societies prefer the old traditional way of learning and development for children. Some cultures are more traditional and want children to learn things in the same way as they did when they were younger as to them it is the only compliable way to do so. For some parent’s technology has made things too simple for children as they can find answers online easily and when reading audio books don’t have to try to read themselves but can listen to a voice telling the story. This means that children don’t have the same experience as reading a paper book. This is because instead of reading words and putting sentences together themselves they have the eBook there for them simply to listen to it. This therefore means that children can’t make mistakes and learn from them therefore in school for example when having to read text books etc they may struggle. Some people may argue that reading standard books requires attention and need focus which entail improves a child’s concentration and brain span which helps develop future relationships with parent, teachers and other children. On the other hand, some cultures prefer that children engage with eBooks as they are what most children use now therefore they want their children to have the same experience as everyone else and not feel as though they are being left out.
In recent times, the use of tablets and iPads in schools has made it tricky for parent’s dependant on their class. This is because not all parents can afford to buy tablets therefore it puts them in the situation where they feel like they cannot provide or cater for the child’s needs. Middle class parents have capital therefore they have the resources to buy ipads or tablets for the use in schools. This creates a class problem as it creates a divide between them and means that children don’t have the same access to resources. According to Bourdieu middle class parents have the skills and knowledge to acquire resources that they need. This is known as cultural capital and gives them an advantage when it comes to educational success. For example middle class parents may know about the latest technology and where to buy tablets and eBooks from on the other hand working class parents do not have this same access to resources as they do not have the funds to purchase this. This was not a problem before as children could just go to a library use a book free of charge and take it back. eBooks have over complicated this and make books available to those who can afford it. This is because the ruling class want the middle class to thrive and working class to fail. This is now overcomplicating things for society as once everyone had equal opportunities and now one class is being valued over another and creating tension in societies. The change in teaching styles does make it very difficult for children however some schools do give out free tablets or iPads therefore give children of both classes and races the same opportunities.
It may be argued that this change overtime in reading a book and now reading a book becoming digital is not the same thing as they are on different levels. This is because when reading a child have no distractions whilst with eBooks comes distractions such as social media, games and other applications which then makes the child lose focus and interest in reading. With the use of eBooks comes the strenuous weight of other issues such as cyber bullying through social media, accessing pornographic websites and playing violent games which all come with the use of eBooks as children will of course use tablets for other leisure’s such as watching videos and playing games. This then means that in school’s children lose focus and cannot concentrate on the reading aspect of their device whether it be a mobile phone or tablet.
Additionally, the change in books over the years from say the 1930’s to 2010 is drastic. books have now become more picture and technology related rather than providing true solid material and language. This means that children may not learn as much from books as they used to as now books tend to have a more focus on fantasy rather than reality. But then again this may stimulate the child’s imagination and allow them to express themselves more creatively through more sophisticated language. This means that the change in books has both its negative and positive attributes. However, in my opinion I think that this change is more positive as it allows children to access more inventive ideas and use technology to help them achieve well in schools.
In terms of gender some say that girls are better at reading than boys (OECD Observer. (Jan 2002) and therefore makes them more successful as they find a hobby in reading whilst boys prefer activities such as sports. This then means that they can be more successful in education as they have read various fictional and non-fictional books. Boys therefore can underachieve as they focus on other aspects of their lives rather than looking at literature. Therefore, the introduction of eBooks encourages boys to use them as its more accessible and use tablets to play other games and may find it more engaging accessing books on their tablet. This shows how boys can now work at the same level as girls as everyone has different learning styles and this accommodates them. But this is stereotypical as some boys also enjoy reading just as much as girls and we can’t just assume these facts as everyone is different.
There’s also a lot of pressure on authors to get it right and provide the correct information but also make it interesting at the same time. This is to improve sales and ensure that they get good ratings and can help connect with both parents and children on a different level and to make the reading process a more emotional and bonding session between the child and parent. The most important thing for a parent to do is to read to their toddler from a young age for example a bedtime story allows the parent and child to have and rekindle their bond and create an attachment with the caregiver. Talking and reading to your child helps to not only spend time with your child (emotional development) but also improve the child’s cognitive development. This attachment process has been looked at by many theorists such as Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby. Mary Ainsworth conducted an experiment in which she observed behaviour of infants in a series of eight episodes which lasted three minutes each. The most interesting stage was when the child would be left with the stranger. The child would display separation anxiety, look extremely upset and begin to cry. Its only when the mother came back and the stranger left would the child show reunion joy. This shows how it’s crucial that a child has a secure attachment with their caregiver from a young age as it crucial for future relationships. If the child has an insecure attachment then this will lead to problems in the future. The process of reading a book helps to build and fortify this attachment as it gives parents the opportunity to have one to one bonding time but also the child is learning new language and vocabulary in the progression. This creates a tranquil space for both parent and child.
Furthermore, a parent who reads to their child becomes a role model in the child’s mind and therefore they will look up to them and copy and imitate what they do. In a way, the child becomes more obedient to their parents and they will look up to them. So, for example if the child sees their parents reading books they will also want to do the same as they like the fact that their parents are reading. This can be explained through Albert Banduras social learning theory. Children pay attention and encode behaviour. For example, when he conducted his experiment on Bobo dolls when a child watched the adult punch and hit the doll the child would then copy this and do the exact same. This shows how the parents role is very important in the child’s developmental process. Parents must set a good example in hope that their child does the same or strives to do even better. When reading a book for example if a child begins to learn alphabet from a phonics book they may be rewarded for doing so. This means that the child is learning through positive reinforcement as when doing this parents reward them with love and affection or even a toy!
In conclusion books have changed overtime due to many factors such as class, gender, access government policies, teaching styles and advancements in technology. This has made it even easier for children to learn new things and children are more independent as they find excitement in using e books to learn as they feel more like adults and can be like their parents. Lev Vygotsky emphasises how crucial it is for the parent to be in the process of their child’s development and stresses the importance of language to help with social interaction. Families of different cultures naturally have different views on issues however simply speaking to your child can help you reinforce these cultural values. For example, the use of religious books can make learning fun through images and stories. Therefore, this change in books can be beneficial for society as a whole because it means that everyone can access them on the go rather than having to take a book with you it’s easy to find an eBook on your device and then listen to it with your child to still have that emotional connection.