Dresang, E. T. (2008). Radical change revisited: Dynamic digital age books for youth.
Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(3), 294-304.
Radical Change Revisited: Dynamic Digital
Age Books for Youth
Eliza T. Dresang
Florida State University
Radical change, a theory described in my 1999 book, Radical Change: Books for Youth in
a Digital Age, was developed in the mid-1990s. It serves as a lens through which to
examine, explain, and ultimately, use contemporary literature for youth growing up in the
Digital Age. It identifies changes in forms and formats, perspectives, and boundaries in
this body of literature—all changes related to the interactivity, connectivity, and access of
the Digital Age (see Figure 1).
When I first conceived the Radical Change theory, almost everyone agreed that digital
technologies were changing radically, yet almost no one acknowledged the concomitant
change in a growing cadre of printed books for youth. Moreover, those who did take note
of the changes in books saw little or no relationship between these alterations and the
Digital Age in which they were written, illustrated, and published. Consequently, in
discussions of the integration of technology in education, printed books were often either
forgotten or treated as a completely different, unrelated entity.
As I prepared this reflection on my book, I realized that Radical Change was then and is
still the only theory of which I am aware that makes this connection between printed
books for youth and the digital environment.[a] Radical Change is what is known as a
spatial/temporal theory, rooted in the belief that authors and illustrators are influenced
by the time and place within which they write. Bakhtin noted that “for the purpose of his
writing, an author must create entire worlds and, in doing so, is forced to make use of the
organizing categories of the real world in which he lives” (Clarkand & Holquist, 1984, p.
278). Radical Change theory fits this tradition.