I bought the Nook Color today for my 10-year-old for Christmas. This Nook is how I short change my child for the much, much desired iPad. My Christmas spirit came with a budget, and it won’t budge.

Nook Color

As I sat wrapping the Nook by our Christmas tree, I marveled at how technology is so rapidly changing the world before my eyes. This Nook makes my own childhood feel so remote, so ancient, as if I came from several lifetimes ago.

Growing up in China in the 70’s, I loved books when I was little. I remember that I owned very few books. This was fine, because right by the street corner where I lived, an old man often showed up on sunny afternoons with a scant selection of old books for people to read for a fee. He had one small shelf of children’s books for rent. Although you were not allowed to take his books with you, that was fine too, because he came with a few small wooden stools, and his customers could sit on his stools and read.

Whenever I spotted him at his usual street corner, I would run to my parents or other grown-ups in the family to ask, plead, or beg for pennies to rent books. The old street vendor charged 2 pennies per book, but if I only had one penny with me, he always took it with a smile, and motioned for me to select a book and sit down on one of his stools to read. I was his persistent regular customer. I went running to him with just one penny frequently, I think my parents often handed me a penny just to shoo me away. That was how my parents satisfied me back then without breaking the bank, just as I hope to do with the relatively inexpensive Nook vs. the costly iPad. The Nook is hardly a shabby gift…satisfying…without costing a fortune. BRILLIANT!

My favorite street vendor had a collection of perhaps 2 dozen or so old children’s books. I have read every one of them. Luckily, children’s books are meant to be enjoyed over and over again. I never had trouble selecting a book that suited my fancy with my pennies.

I did have a few books to call my own. June 1st is the children’s day in China, and every year on June 1st, my father would buy me a new book. He would take me and my sister to the only bookstore in our small city, and let us each select a book.

The Chinese children’s books of my childhood were in black and white only. That’s right, they weren’t printed in color, or at least I never owned a colored picture book. That was fine too, because I had a habit of taking my colored pencils, and sitting there for hours at a time and carefully coloring each page of the books myself. Against the trend of my times, I always thought that children’s books should have color. That’s why I had to buy the Nook COLOR instead of some of the even lower cost black-and-white alternatives.

Both of my children are total book worms. I claim credit and take full pride for having raised them to love reading. I now wonder if the Nook will be a new addition to feed my child’s reading habit along with real books, or if it will completely spoil my child’s enormous appetite for trips to Barnes & Noble or Borders’ or their school book fairs. I also wonder if I will be enticed to go out and buy a Nook for myself. For now, I am firmly in the old-school camp. I still prefer hugging a real book, and turning a real page.

A Library of real Books

Here is my previous post about my 10-year-old wanting an iPad for Christmas.

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