interactive books: good or bad?

The Guardian this week published an article about whether interactive book apps were positive or negative things for young children.

It’s an interesting read, essentially asking the question: what is important about the reading experience?

[Ferelith] Hordon says… “They are great fun and they have their place. But on the whole, they distract from the reading experience. For very small children there is something very special – and something that needs to be treasured – in listening to the parent’s voice reading.

“If you start putting pop-ups and twiddles and voices into the picture book experience, where is the difference between that and a film or a game? In this world in which there is so much noise and movement is there no value in promoting stillness and thought?”

It’s definitely a controversial thing to challenge what people see as the next advance in this type of technnology, and it opens up a whole discussion about what reading is.

Is it reading because the words are on screen? Is it reading because its about a story? Does it matter which format the words are in, or is reading fundamentally about scriptism – that our society has decided that the written word is the most perfect form of language, the most ideal – perhaps the most idealised?