• Opinion-lead

    Opinion: Should we cut classic children’s stories for the internet generation?

Opinion

Opinion: Should we cut classic children's stories for the internet generation?

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

This week Maisie Skidmore wonders whether digital publishers should be pandering to the reduced attention spans of the iGeneration and shorten classic children’s books. As ever you can add your thoughts using the thread below.

Winnie the Pooh and his bumbling adventures have enchanted children since 1926, but this week it was revealed that the most recent digital reinterpretation of the classic books have been abridged, in order to cater to the reduced attention span of children of the internet generation.

So alongside the newly animated illustrations – one of which features the well-loved bear taking a quick snap of The Shard on his iPhone – the stories have been shortened to hook children in more quickly. Publishers Egmont Press have defended their decision to abridge the stories as a reflection of the changing needs of publishing formats. “Today’s children’s attention spans are slightly different to how they were in 1926,” Kristian Knak, experience designer at Egmont Press explained to The Times. “We have a minute to get them on board. If not, they will move on to the next app.”

The decision to abridge the stories is, of course, a reflection of the changing way in which our generation absorbs literature; the rapid growth of eBooks dominates the current literary market, and as such it is only logical that the growing trends reverberate in the field of children’s books. In some respects then the decision to shorten the stories seems to be a careful response to a difficult predicament.

Tim Jones, a publisher at Egmont, insisted this was not a decision that was taken lightly. He said: “We’ve been working with illustrations that are 85 years old, and which have a place in British culture, illustrations that are greatly loved. We had to look at it very sensitively, and that’s what we’ve tried to do.”

Still, while I appreciate and encourage the efforts of a publishing house to engage with the digital and eBook format – reading is reading, after all – the decision to shorten a children’s story in order to hold their attention seems, as far as I’m concerned, to defeat the object. We read to children to stimulate their imaginations, to encourage both written and verbal communication and to help them to develop lively, interesting and engaging opinions on subject matter they are consuming. Surely, then, reducing the content prevents the advancement of the very skill-set that this app looks to develop?

Those who are similarly concerned about the potential repercussion of such a decision should, at the very least, take some heart at the media’s response to the news. Equal parts confused, indignant and troubled, the overall feeling appears to be that if we continue to pander to short attention spans in this way, we run the risk of raising a generation of people who – unless they are hooked within the first 60 seconds – are unable to participate in a conversation, let alone read a novel.

comments powered by Disqus
Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what it is about weekly podcast Serial that has got the whole world talking. As ever, we want to hear what you think! Add your two pennies in the comment thread below.

  2. List

    This week Rob Alderson examines Paper Magazine’s attempts to “break the internet” with their nude Kim Kardashian photoshoot. He asks if it’s actually a good cover, and what (if anything) it tells us about the magazine industry. As ever you can add your thoughts below…

  3. List

    Ahead of a panel discussion we’re hosting at London College of Communication next week we’re keen to explore whether the gap between design schools and the creative industries is a problem that needs addressing. You can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

  4. List

    In a special Opinion piece, Rob Alderson explains why the closure of London’s Kemistry Gallery is a cause for concern, but why its ambitious future plans need to be encouraged. You can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

  5. Lead

    This week online editor Emily Gosling looks at who can really claim authorship of artworks created using technology designed by someone else. Who can really take the credit for art that might not be possible without the tech know-how of others?

  6. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on an interesting blog by Chloe Markowicz which suggests that people are ashamed to call what they do advertising. As ever you can join the debate and add your comments using the discussion thread below.

  7. Main

    Wake up! Freshers’ Week is done – all that colourful IKEA kitchenware your mum got you is nowhere to be seen and you’ve gained 478 new friends on Facebook and an awkward conversation with your home friends about who you’re actually going to Glastonbury with next year. To be honest, being a fresher usually goes on for way longer than a week. After a month or so of partying and drinking Glenn’s Vodka and Robinson’s out of tupperware bowls you wake up with a whole load of briefs to tackle and studio space and equipment to fight over. This is the START of ART SCHOOL.

  8. List

    In recent months the question of so-called spec work has been raised with us over social media in light of various design competitions we have helped promote. Off the back of that we have spent a lot of time discussing this thorny issue with various people so as to formulate a consistent approach, although the nature of these things is that each is best analysed on a case by case basis.

  9. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on the launch of the new Design Museum website and the strange suggestion that the redesign should have been given to a British agency rather than Dutch studio Fabrique. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  10. Opinion-list

    In the wake of the launch of Printed Pages Autumn 2014, Editor James Cartwright wonders and worries about the secret of designing a great magazine cover and asks for any handy hints you might have. Do him a favour and add your thoughts in the comments section below.

  11. Main

    In light of New York Fashion Week’s main event, a star-studded play put on by Opening Ceremony entitled 100% Lost Cotton, the It’s Nice That team began to ponder their own individual dream play, and what that would look like if they were given the chance to direct it. The results are pretty weird to be honest, but you can’t deny the appeal of each and every one in its own way.

  12. Main

    This week Editor Liv Siddall addresses the world’s distraught reaction to the announcement that MSN Messenger will terminate after 15 years in operation, and wonders if we should get so nostalgic and wet-eyed over technology.

  13. Main

    This week editorial assistant Amy Lewin ponders the cultural impact of the potential England/Scotland split. As ever, feel free to leave comments below.