From Hillel: Should Books Have a Future?

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Recently, I saw on a Youtube video, a toddler trying to “change” (turn) the page of a book by touching the page over and over again with his finger. When the page would not turn, the child looked at his finger as if his finger was not working.  While the toddler was clearly familiar with tablets, he seemed inexperienced with books.

On one level it was a funny video – a sign of the times.  How many of you have seen babies in highchairs playing with their parent’s iPhones with more dexterity and proficiency than many adults?

This toddler, trying to manipulate a book like a tablet, got me thinking about the future of books. I’m all for e-books and reading material on line. Often it is easier and more convenient.  As a parent of college students it is also more economical for my children to purchase textbooks on line than to buy the paper version.

While I embrace all that technology has to offer, I am in the camp that believes there is still a place for books and, hopefully, there will always be a place for books.  Some things are just meant to last.  There is something about the touch and smell of a book that enriches the reading experience.  You can cuddle with a book more easily than with a tablet or nook. There are places to take a book that you could not with an electronic device. And for Jews who observe the Shabbat and holidays, books will always be a necessity.

We still read Torah and Megillat Esther from scrolls because some things are simply meant to last and stay the same.  Isn’t that the point of tradition and change? I think books fall into that category.

One way to continue to support reading from books is to buy your children wonderful books and encourage them to read them in comfortable and cozy places.  This coming week, the Hillel Day School P.T.O. is sponsoring its annual Scholastic Book Fair.  I encourage everyone to spend some time at the book fair and to buy your children books for Chanukah or “just because!”

Jews are known as the “People of the Book.” Somehow, it does not sound the same to say, Jews are the “People of the e-book.”

See you at the book fair!

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