Apparently, people are reading more and more on their phones. Please check out Jennifer Maloney’s article, “The Rise of Phone Reading,” in The Wall Street Journal.
In the last three years, according to Nielsen, the percentage of people who read primarily on their phones has jumped to 14 percent from 9 percent. On the other hand, the percentage of people who read primarily on their e-readers has plummeted to 32 percent from 50 percent.
From the article: “The future of digital reading is on the phone,” said Judith Curr, publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books. “It’s going to be on the phone and it’s going to be on paper.”
I think this trend is real and will likely continue. So why am I still collecting recycled Kindles and giving them to students? Shouldn’t I just encourage them to read on their phones? After all, the White House is moving in that direction, and the New York Public Library is developing an e-reading app for smartphones.
Moving to phones — as Worldreader has done — won’t work for the Kindle Classroom Project for several reasons. The most important reason the KCP cannot and does not want to rely on BYOD, or bring your own device. That’s inequitable. Plus, giving a student a Kindle is a crucial part of the program. When a teacher tells a student, “This Kindle is for you,” that means, “I care about you and your reading.”
The second reason is practical: Phones won’t work because they’re banned in most schools. The point of the KCP is to increase access to reading in order to encourage students to grow lives of the mind. That means making reading an option as often as possible, as simply as possible. If phones can’t be out, then students can’t be reading.
I won’t get into some of the other reasons — like whether phones distract students more than e-readers, or whether the phone “is antithetical to deep reading,” as neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf argues.
Sure, perhaps a trusty Kindle 2 e-reader is becoming antiquated, and maybe a few students (though I haven’t heard this from many of them) would prefer sticking with their phones to read. But overwhelmingly, students tell me they love having a Kindle and a library of 500+ books to read, along with the opportunity to request new ones whenever the like.