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Two weeks ago, I reported on a poll by Scholastic demonstrating the importance of parents reading aloud to their children well past the age that children can read on their own. There is another aspect to the poll worth mentioning, and it’s backed up by what adolescents say about reading.

Finding #3 in the Scholastic poll says, “Kids want books in print—as opposed to in electronic format—even more than they did two years ago. So do their parents. Two-thirds of children stated that they prefer books in print format over books in e-format. In fact, the 2014 rate marks a 5-point increase over that of 2012.”

Their preference is echoed by what college students said in research reported in The New Republic. Linguistics professor Naomi Baron led a study of more than three hundred students in the United States, Japan, Germany and Slovakia that asked them about their reading habits. When she offered them a choice for serious reading, fully 92 percent of respondents selected “hard copy” over cell phone, table, e-reader, and laptop.

The youths told Baron that they liked the feel and smell of real books, and they would have more “visual memory” of what they had read in print form than on a screen.

So, to the teachers here, we should hesitate to assume that our Digital Native students are stuck on screens by choice. Think about that when placing text order for next Fall semester courses. 

Mark Bauerlein is senior editor at First Things.

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