Just a couple of weeks ago I successfully defended my thesis. After a lot of thought, I decided to explore child literacy. I’ve always had a soft spot for kids and reading. I’m that aunt who always gives books as presents. However, my graduate work is in technical communication, and I can practically hear you saying: “What does technical communication have to do with child literacy?” Quite a bit actually! Check out the introduction of my thesis (posted below) for a look into this connection. I will continue to post each part of my thesis over the course of the next couple of months. Because it’s so long and unwieldy, I’m not going to post it all at once. Enjoy!
E-Books, Digital Readers, and Reading Technology: How Technical Communication Can Be Used to Improve Child Literacy
Before technology introduced video games, television, movies, and the Internet into the world, children had only a few options for leisure activities, one of which was reading. Now reading must vie with technology, sports, and friends for a spot on the daily itinerary; a spot that more often than not goes to another pastime. As a result, kids read less, which in turn adversely affects those skills and knowledge—literacy and critical reading skills—obtained through reading. This disturbing trend, however, may be reshaped by an evolution in technology, providing new media through which books are read, supplanting the traditional printed texts with digital and electronic text on computers, smartphones, tablets, and mp3 players. Utilizing technology and technical communication to promote, instead of vie with, reading breathes new life into child literacy and improves literacy and critical reading skills, due chiefly to the development of unique features and tools.
This paper will determine the state of child literacy rates, outline the roles digital text and electronic literacy are playing and can play in increasing literacy, explain current reading technologies, discuss how technical communicators can be part of this movement, and finish with the implications of digital text in a changing world.