• 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. List

    Two weeks ago we featured DesignStudio’s Airbnb logo. One week ago copywriter Rob Mitchell of We All Need Words wrote an Opinion piece calling for an end to convoluted brand stories. His article was cheered by some people and incensed others; Sam Peskin and Liam Hamill of VentureThree want to have their say and defend brand strategy. Again you can add your views using the comment thread below…

  2. List

    We were pretty impressed with the new Airbnb logo when it launched last week, but for a different perspective, here’s Rob Mitchell from We All Need Words. He tells us why he’s had enough of “over-cooked brand stories masquerading as strategy” and as ever you can add your thoughts below…

  3. List

    In light of our recent changes and the launch of the new-look Design Observer, Rob Alderson reflects on design websites’ redesigns. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below, and we’re particularly keen to hear what you’re making of our new look!

  4. List

    This week James Cartwright wonders what the V&A is up to with its policy of “Rapid Response Collecting” and whether it really marks a shift in their curation policy. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  5. List

    This week Rob Alderson considers the aftermath of the disastrous Robin Thicke Twitter Q&A and wonders how it was ever signed off when what was going to happen seemed entirely predictable. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  6. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what makes a good group show. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they poised for failure? Tell us what you think of them and which you’ve been to that were especially brilliant or terrible in the comments section below.

  7. Main

    This week online editor Liv Siddall wonders if anyone actually enjoys the huge amount of wacky summertime events that are on offer in London. As always your comments and opinions are welcome below.

  8. Main

    This week, editor Liv Siddall gets excited about the upcoming ELCAF festival in London, and tells you all sternly why YES it is very important that we keep going to live events surrounding graphic arts and comics.

  9. Top

    This week Nat Hunter, director of design at The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) and a trustee of D&AD, welcomes awards being given to projects that make a real difference. It might mark, she believes, a fundamental shift in the design world. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  10. Main

    This week our Editorial Assistant Madeleine Morley reflects on her four weeks at It’s Nice That but wonders if the fast turnover of creative content online is really a good thing. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to join in the conversation below.

  11. Main1

    This week Apple turned down an application for an app that promotes female masturbation on the grounds that it’s inappropriate. Liv Siddall wonders whether, despite the criticism over the design of the app, that was really the issue here. As always, get involved with your own comments below.

  12. Opinion

    This week Rob Alderson looks at actors who were too good-looking for the roles they played and asks Hollywood to give viewers a bit more credit. As ever you can join the discussion below.

  13. Main

    Two years ago when this Opinion feature started, Rob Alderson wrote a piece about the rampant rise of the “must-see” culture; shows which the media’s frenzy makes you feel like you have to go and see. Hands up who found themselves queuing for the Bowie show at the V&A without knowing much more about him than just the chorus to Life on Mars? Me. Who queued bottom-to-crotch in the rain with about 1,000 grumpy pensioners to catch a glimpse of Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy? Also me.