Magazine article NATE Classroom

Book Box News

Magazine article NATE Classroom

Book Box News

Article excerpt

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E-Books By Gum!

A conversation on Radio 4's Today Programme on 8.8.08 will have struck a chord with many English teachers. James Naughtie was examining the prospect for e-books. Apparently publishers are very keen to get this technology up and running and into the hands of us, the reading public.

An e-book is an electronic book, something you read on screen instead of on paper. During the summer WH Smith, Borders and Amazon have all been busy promoting sales of palm sized readers. These are light weight screens which will display the text of the reading material once it has been uploaded to the reader and saved. In the USA, the Amazon 'kindle' system sold out immediately when it was launched. In Britain the iLiad e-book is said to be selling very well and Sony launched their own 'Reader' system in September.

Naughtie and his team had given out a couple of these 'readers' to some experts and asked them to trial reading with them for a few weeks. Author Naomi Alderman and Kathryn Hughes, Professor of Life Writing at University of East Anglia, both reported very positive experiences with the new system.

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'You forget about the technology if the story is good,' said Naomi Alderman. 'It just becomes invisible.' Whilst Kathryn Hughes reported that she was happy to take her e-book to bed. She went on to enthuse that this meant that she didn't have to find space for additional books in her house. It was pointed out how this would help with the traditional holiday reading problem--too many books to cram into too small a space. Now all you would need to do is pop down to an internet cafe with your reader, log on and download your desired choices in e-texts.

With 25,000 classic texts freely available thanks to Project Gutenburg, that round the world gap year trip your post-16 students keep discussing, might actually lay a good foundation for some serious studying! With e-books you can choose your own font and font size. Being electronic there is also the potential of incorporating pictures, sound clips, video or animated graphics.

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On the down side, we were told that the battery life for an e-book reader was only 800 turns of a page. However, I note with interest that the specifications for the Sony Reader suggest that you can turn 7000 pages on one charge and the battery is rechargeable.

I love the smell and feel of books; nothing can replace that sensory experience of opening a much loved book that has been passed down through a family for generations or finding a dusty treasure in a junk shop that you've always wanted. Like most of you, I guess, my house has too many books. I cannot throw them away. If e-readers help take a bit of weight off the bulging shelves, bring them on!

Dear Sony/WH Smiths/Borders/Amazon, I would be very happy to help trial your new ...

Barrington Stoke Book Blurb Competition

When Dundee City Council's Education Department and their Leisure and Communities Department decided to find out what 12-year-olds really wanted to read, they came up with a very creative response to finding out. They had the idea of setting up a competition asking children to write blurbs for as yet unwritten books. They then approached publishers Barrington Stoke, who secured the services of best selling author Catherine McPhail. She agreed that as first prize, she would write a book based on the winning blurb, to be published by Barrington Stoke in 2009. She also ran creative workshops.

1500 eager readers and writers took part in the competition. The quality of the entries was 'stunning' said one of the judges. The winning entry from Becky Wright of Morgan Academy went as follows:

 
   The school was dark. Empty. Phoebe and her five 
   best friends sat alone in their maths classroom 
   getting ready for a ghostly game of hide and 
   seek. … 
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