Printed Books Are Better Than Digital When Reading to Toddlers

Printed Books Are Better Than Digital When Reading to Toddlers

Reading is a fun and exciting activity that a parent and a toddler can do together / Photo by: Evgeny Atamanenko via 123RF

 

Reading is a fun and exciting activity that a parent and a toddler can do together. Parents enjoy reading to their children and seeing their entertaining reactions. Meanwhile, children enjoy reading because they discover new things and learn more.

Nowadays, there are two options to choose from when reading—printed books and digital ones. Both offer advantages and disadvantages in reading and learning. However, what do experts recommend as the best when it comes to toddlers?

 

Print vs. Digital

Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study to check the differences in parent-toddler interactions with printed books and electronic books. They asked 37 parents to read similar stories to their toddlers aged two to three years old using three different formats—a printed book, a basic electronic book on a tablet, and an enhanced electronic book with animation/sound effects.

The results of their study showed that parents and toddlers shared more verbalizations and dialogic collaboration when they read using printed books. “A printed book is just so good at eliciting these interactions. You’re comparing a tablet with the gold standard,” Dr. Tiffany Munzer, a fellow in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, said.

Basic vs. Enhanced

Researchers also found out that reading using a basic electronic book on a tablet and an enhanced electronic book were both distracting to toddlers. They had less engagement with their parents.

“The tablet itself made it harder for parents and children to engage in the rich back-and-forth turn-taking that was happening in printed books,” Dr. Munzer said.

Researchers found out that reading using a basic electronic book on a tablet and an enhanced electronic book were both distracting to toddlers / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via 123RF

 

Although the researchers did not find out why, they speculated that it might be because of the patterns on the devices. “The tablet is designed to be more of a personal device, perhaps parents and children use it independently at home,” she added.

According to Dr. Suzy Tomopoulos, assistant professor at the department of pediatrics at N.Y.U School of Medicine, “You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to support your child’s development. Engaging the child and talking to the child does a wonderful job of supporting early childhood development.”

 

Gadgets Used Not for Reading

According to another research, children aged 4 to 6 years old who have regular access to gadgets do not use their electronic devices for reading. Also, the more devices they have, the less they read.

This only shows that instead of promoting reading and making it easier and more accessible, electronic devices, such as Kindles, iPads, and mobile phones do not help children o acquire good and regular reading habits. They also prefer reading printed books than digital books.

The research contradicts the notion that children nowadays are digital natives and prefer screen-based reading. It turns out that reading on devices leaves room for children to be distracted as they can switch between different applications while reading on a tablet. Some students prefer playing a game than reading on their electronic devices.

 

Encouraging Reading

We know that it is important to read books to improve and retain literacy skills. Thus, we must do something to increase the number of children reading books. The following tips can help encourage your children to read.

- Show them that you enjoy reading. Whether you are a parent or a teacher, you should show your children or students that you actually like reading books. If they see that you are, they will be inspired to read more books and read more often.

- Create spaces that are reading-friendly. Make sure that there is a quiet spot somewhere at home or in school where children can enjoy and appreciate what they are reading. It should be far from loud noises, poor lighting, and several distractions.

- Encourage regular silent reading. Make reading a routine whether at home or in school. Let them decide whichever book they want to read silently. This may be the perfect opportunity for them to read for pleasure.

- Share ideas and recommendations. Discuss the books you enjoyed or learned from the most. Doing so will encourage children to explore these books and find out their hidden beauty.

- Support them in reading something they enjoy. Provide them more books that they like whether at home or in school. This will promote a regular reading habit among children.

Highest Benefit for Children’s Literacy

Based on research by the National Literacy Trust, children who are most engaged in reading read both printed and digital books. This is the result of the survey they conducted among 56,905 children and teenagers aged 9 to 18 in the UK.

According to the article published on The Publishers Association, “Twice as many young people who read above the level expected for their age read fiction both in print and on screen compared with those who read below the expected level.”

Therefore, both print and digital reading are important if we want to save the future of reading and improve children’s literacy. We should continue thinking of ways on how children will enjoy what they are reading and the activity itself.

Both print and digital reading are important if we want to save the future of reading and improve children’s literacy / Photo by: dolgachov via 123RF