Last Child in the Library? A Survey of Use of E-books versus Traditional Books

Claudia McVicker


Do kids even read books anymore? Don’t kids just read on tablets these days? Why do we still have libraries?

Those flip remarks can be heard in many communities these days, from large cities to rural areas. But contemporary librarians should not fear. Recent reports of books being obsolete have been greatly exaggerated. One recent survey found that digital natives still prefer real books to electronic ones on their tablets.

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Marc Prensky, Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010).

Hakan Dundar and Akcayir Murat, “Tablet vs. Paper: The Effect on Learners’ Reading Performance,” International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education 4, no. 3 (2012): 441.

Bob Lenz, “Will the iPad and other Similar Technology Revolutionize Learning?” Edutopia, June 9, 2010,

Adina Shamir and Ofra Korat, “The Educational Electronic Book as a Tool for Supporting Children’s Emergent Literacy,” in Multimedia and Literacy Development: Improving Achievement for Young Learners, edited by Adriana G. Bus and Susan B. Neuman, 168–81 (New York: Routledge, 2009).

Marc Prensky, “Listen to the Natives,” Educational Leadership 63, no. 4 (2005): 8–13.

Nicola Yelland, Caja Gilbert, and Nicole Turner, “iPlay, iLearn, iGrow: Using iPads in a Play-Based Kindergarten Program,” Every Child 20, no. 3 (2014): 14–15.

Louise Rosenblatt, The Reader, the Text, the Poem (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1978), 139.

Claudia McVicker, “Plugged and Unplugged Reading: tBooks vs. eBooks” (paper presented, Literacy Association of Ireland Conference, Dublin, October 2017).

Claudia McVicker, “Plugged and Unplugged Reading: Young Readers’ Preferences Matter” (unpublished paper, Department of Education, Faculty of William Jewell College of Liberty, Missouri, 2017).

Cynthia L. Gregory, “But I Want a Real Book: An Investigation of Undergraduates’ Usage and Attitudes Toward Electronic Books,” Reference & User Services Quarterly (2008): 266–73.



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