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A good early start

Years ago the state of Texas had a program that provided money to help improve residents' parenting skills.

I headed up the community committee that decided how to spend that money up in the Wichita Falls area. It was a good program, and I learned a lot of eye-opening stuff about the importance of very early childhood development. In particular I found out how children behave when they are neglected. Holding, loving, talking to and reading to a very young child is crucial for his or her brain development.

Much more research has been done on this topic in the years since I served on that panel, all of it simply underscoring the main point that young children must be stimulated in many ways so as to have a healthy brain.

Starting this Friday the library is going to give parents new tools to help them nurture the brains of their pre-k children. The program is called "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten." The kickoff is at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

This is a major initiative for us, and we are all excited about being able to help parents raise good, smart kids.

A summer of reading

More and more kids, teens and adults are participating in our summer programs here at the library.

This summer, we had 240 children in the reading program, and they read 4,700 books! More than 70 people were involved in the adult program, and 30 were in the teen program.

A total of 37 area merchants provided prizes. Many thanks to them, especially.

Next summer we'll have even more, I'm sure.

Just wondering

We were talking this morning about the migration of reading materials from printed books to Kindles and Nooks and iPads.

Someone suggested that readers who use Kindles don't retain the material as readily as do people who use printed books.

Someone else suggested that comprehension suffers.

I just wonder.

I plan on trying to do some looking around to see if there is any good research on the subject. So, more later.

Print may be better

In the last blog I asked the question of whether there is a difference in comprehension for people who read on tablets as opposed to those who read printed books from the same material.

Some of the latest research indicates there is a difference and not in favor of tablet reading matter.

Benjamin Herold writes on the Digital Education Blog sponsored by Education Week about two studies presented at a national conference. Both showed significantly less comprehension among students who accessed material via tablet compared to those who read the material in printed-on-paper format.

I did find another interesting takedown of similar research by John Jones, posted in November of last year at dmlcentral.

But, from what I can tell by googling the question, tablet is not as good as print.

My newspaper career spanned 45 years and a huge change in the technologies used to write and edit news articles and features. It was my experience and observation that reporters and editors made more errors and wrote more poorly on computers than they did when using typewriters.

I concluded that there was some issue involving comprehension on the screen as opposed to on the printed page.

Nothing I have read so far persuades me to change my mind.

Amazon unfair

Hachette is a big publisher of books.

Amazon is bigger. Way bigger.

And Amazon always seems to play to win.

So a fight that started off pretty nasty has taken a new and even nastier turn. To force Hachette to do what Amazon wants, the Internet sales giant has essentially boycotted Hachette's authors, a great many of them very famous.

In an unusual two-page advertising spread appearing on pages 8 and 9 in the first section of the New York Times Sunday editions, several hundred writers take Amazon to task for holding their heads under want to try to force Hachette to see things Amazon's way.

What Amazon has been doing to bully Hachette has been just plain old downright unfair and underhanded to boot.

Jeff Bezos: Come down off your high horse and deal with Hachette like a responsible businessman, not a bully.