Children’s books are the cornerstone of literacy. From a very early age, children are introduced to books that allow them to dream about faraway lands and colorful characters through vibrant illustrations and powerful words.
To this very day, Madeline, Corduroy, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar rank at the top of my all-time-favourites list, right along with A Thousand Splendid Suns and Eat Pray Love. Perhaps it’s the childhood memory of reading with my mother, or the fact that these books sparked my love of reading. Children’s books are more popular than ever, but they are now at the point of format transformation.
The eBook phenomenon is upon us, and although it has taken a while to really hit the children’s book market, more and more titles are being released every day. As color eReaders and tablets rapidly enter the market, publishers are beginning to see the picture book eReading experience a much more viable one. After all, what would Brown Bear, Brown Bear be without its radiant illustrations?
At Winnipeg Public Library, our catalog of children’s eBooks is rapidly expanding. Just over the past few months, we’ve added The Berenstain Bears, Thomas the Tank Engine, Curious George, and many more titles to our OverDrive database. And better yet, these titles are available 24/7, and many can be downloaded onto any computer , iPod®, iPhone®, iPad™, Android™, Sony® Reader, and hundreds of other mobile devices. Talk about the perfect road-trip solution!
How do we know that these eBooks are growing in popularity? Over the past 6 months, the circulation of children’s eBooks at OverDrive libraries has soared 474%, making it one of the fastest growing genres. While some might attribute this to the general boom in eBook circulation across all genres, statistics show otherwise. Two of the most popular genres, Mystery and Romance, increased 329% and 297% respectively, much less than children’s fiction.
There is no question that children’s eBooks are here to stay. What is uncertain is how parents and educators will embrace and implement this new technology into entertaining and educating the newest generation of kids. In his blog post The Future of Children’s eBooks, GeekDad discusses the opportunities that children’s eBooks offer for interactive learning. The best eBooks will allow children to control the narrative, nurture exploration, and support 21st century skills. Time, innovation, and good old fashioned imagination will take children’s eBooks to the next level — and I can’t wait to see where we end up!