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Does one size fit all?


illus. by André da Loba from the New York Times

Leonard Marcus gave a swell talk about Robert McCloskey last night, but what’s really sticking with me is a response he gave to a question at the end about ebooks. Size matters, he essentially said, when it comes to picture books and other books for young children. Of course, we all know this, but I hadn’t thought about the point in the context where Leonard was placing it, that the size and shape of whatever ebook you’re reading is subsumed by the size and shape of whatever screen you’re reading it on. The difference between the board book, picture book and big book editions of Goodnight, Gorilla disappears in your e-reader edition (which–I just tried it–is a disappointing experience indeed). I’m thinking I may need to gin up a jeremiad for our Cleveland presentation on Friday.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Picture book lovers will probably never warm to the e book, and I count myself in their lot.

  2. Yes, that has occurred to me, too–the experience is just so different. I said in a blog post that I think picture books will be the last print books to disappear, partly for that reason.

    I also think there’s an issue over controlling the experience. Kids are waiting the whole time they’re using a screen for the next opportunity to DO something, instead of listening, or at least that is my theory.

  3. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    I think Loud Crow has done a good job with this in their board-book based apps, like their Sandra Boyton series and Goodnight Moon. The size and page turn of the actual book are maintained while still allowing for the bells and whistles of an app. I think this would only work quite this well with a standard-size board book, though.

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