Thursday News: book clubs, more on ebooks v. print, and Michael Bond dies
Celebrity book clubs: Page turner or dust collector? – The most interesting element of this article may be the link to an April survey that claims people in the UK would like to be reading more, but are too busy, and among other things, have a difficult time picking a book. The first issue – time allocation – may help explain all sorts of current trends, from short fiction to other venues of storytelling, while the second issue seems to buoy the value of so-called celebrity book clubs that push certain books above the marketplace mire, focusing attention and, perhaps, a bit of FOMO toward those who would like to be reading more. Which is just another way of saying that marketing still matters.
A recent survey by The Reading Agency showed two thirds of people would like to read more but are too busy.
Yet, the agency’s chief executive supports [Guardian culture editor Claire] Armitstead’s “sorting hat” theory: “Most people also said they struggled to find a book they liked. Recommendations are the most likely thing to convince people to read more literature… however they are signposted to books, it can only be a good thing,” says Sue Wilkinson. – BBC and The Reading Agency
22 Ambassadors Recommend the One Book to Read Before Visiting Their Country – Speaking of book recommendations, Condé Nast Traveler features 22 books named by foreign ambassadors for prospective visitors. While some of the books are expected, even clichéd recommendations, others are not, and overall it’s an interesting list, whether or not you’re planning a trip anytime soon.
Preparing for a visit to a foreign country can often be overwhelming, with no shortage of things to learn before you go. Where should you eat? Where should you stay? What do you tip? More so than this service information, though, is a sense of cultural understanding that’s hard to put your finger on. With this in mind, language learning app Babbel asked foreign ambassadors to the U.S. to pick the book they believe first-time visitors to their country should read before they arrive. Their answers may surprise you. – Condé Nast Traveler (h/t The Digital Reader)
Book Wars: Reading Electronically Might Be Better for Your Kids – So this study, “Parent–Toddler Behavior and Language Differ When Reading Electronic and Print Picture Books,” was carried out by researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of South Dakota, and it involved 102 17-26 month-old toddlers, half of whom had an electronic book, and half of whom had a printed book. One odd thing is that the printed book appears to be a bound collection of screenshots, which could have affected the results. Also, I’m not sure how much this study even demonstrates, given the added effects for electronic books. One important aspect of the study, though, is that the children reading ebooks did not seem to need as much parental involvement in the reading process, which may have implications for how parents and children are interacting around reading.
Strouse and Ganea qualified their results, saying, “One important caveat to our findings is that increased engagement does not always translate into increased learning.”
The two researchers credit the additional features of e-books with increasing childrens’ engagement levels. Animations, background sounds, narration and additional activities provide toddlers with more activity, and also more chances to take part in the learning process.
With this information in mind, it’s possible these books may not differ in terms of actual learning, but rather just by how interested a toddler is to interact with them. – Paste Magazine
Michael Bond, The ‘Giant’ Behind Paddington Bear, Dies At 91 – I forgot to post this last week, but the article on children’s books reminded me. Michael Bond wrote more than 200 books during his long life, and was inspired to create the infamous Paddington character when he bought the stuffed animal equivalent of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree near Paddington Station. But there was even more behind the idea, and the depth of that inspiration may be in part what has driven the enduring popularity of the earnestly naive bear.
Looking back on that moment, Bond told The Guardian in 2014 that he was also likely inspired by another memory, at another train station: the evacuee children he would see come through Reading Station during World War II.
“They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions,” Bond told the paper. “So Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.”
As news of his death surfaced, readers took to social media to offer their tributes — as well as a pledge: We’ll look after your bear, Mr. Bond. – NPR