| May 13, 2010

Reading Tablets Transform Lives


A guest blog post by Christianna Pierce

While many people enjoy portable e-readers as a convenient luxury, I believe e-readers have the potential to transform lives on an unprecedented scale. Here’s why:


One of the greatest assets of the e-reader is the near-instant access it provides to thousands of books.

Available topics range from classic literature to rocket science and everything in between.  Also, the growing number of titles available in local languages increases the accessibility of books to people in developing countries.  E-readers are a terrific source of books for children and adults who would otherwise have limited access to written material.

Having increased access to books leads to increased reading and literacy.

This idea is born out by several studies.  A report from the IEA Study of Reading Literacy highlights the fact that the availability of books is a key factor in reading achievement. Researcher W.B. Elley studied the reading achievement of children in 32 countries. He concluded that the highest scoring countries provide their students with greater access to books in the home, in the school, and in nearby community libraries and bookstores.

Similarly, Sanford Newman and his team found that the most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to written material. An abundance of books in public libraries, easy access to books in the community at large and a large number of textbooks per student are found in communities ranking highest in reading achievement tests.

Improved literacy leads to an improved quality of life for the individual, for families and for society.

The Department for International Development (DFID) evaluated research from studies in more than 30 countries.  The conclusion: effective literacy education can improve skills, increase productivity and improve income. Further, literacy education has been shown to enhance confidence; contribute to personal development; and promote improved family hygiene, nutrition, health, and social and political participation.

The EFA Global Monitoring Report: Why Literacy Matters (2006) lists additional benefits of literacy.  These include:

  • Decreased infant mortality
  • Increased gender equality
  • Economic growth
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Socio-economic empowerment
  • Increased political participation
  • Positive impact on peace and reconciliation in post-conflict situations
  • Cultural transformation
  • Preservation of cultural diversity, particularly in programs that make use of minority languages.

Tying it all together

Improved quality of life due to increased literacy hinges on the increased availability of written materials. But the reality is that many households in developing countries have few literary resources. This presents a marvelous opportunity for the distribution and utilization of e-readers.  They are portable; convenient; offer access to thousands of books, magazines and newspapers; and are a feasible solution to getting printed matter into the hands of new and developing readers.


Christianna fell in love with reading the minute she began following the fun adventures of Dick and Jane and their scappy dog, Spot. She also remembers watching the Jetsons cartoon and dreaming about how wonderful it would be to read books on a computer someday.  She is thrilled that day has finally arrived. Christianna can be found online at elegantsimplelife.com.