Print or digital? Adults grapple with which is the best way to read — not only for themselves, but especially when it comes to their kids. Whether or not parents prefer print books over interactive e-books for their kids, the question is, what’s actually better for them?
Depends on what you’re trying to achieve. According to a study of a small group of parents released today by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, kids age 3 to 6 remembered more narrative details — “What happened in the story?” — from print books than from enhanced e-books with multimedia features.
But when kids were asked one plot question for each story, (i.e., “Why did x do y?”), there was no difference between the print book readers and the enhanced e-book readers.
“I would definitely make the distinction that the platform affected recall instead of comprehension,” said Cynthia Chiong, the lead author of the survey conducted at New York Hall of Science’s Preschool Place.
The study, the first of its kind to qualify the difference between basic and enhanced e-readers versus print books, examined 32 pairs of parents and their 3–6-year-old children as they read a print book and an e-book together. Half of the pairs read a basic e-book and the other half read an enhanced e-book.
“Now it’s time to start thinking more purposefully and thoughtfully into what goes into the creation of an e-book.”
Researchers found that while the multimedia features of enhanced e-books grabbed children’s attention, those same features also distracted young readers and led more to “non-content related interactions.” Features like animation, sound effects, videos, and games made it more difficult for some parents to keep kids focused on reading and diminished kids’ recall of the text. Parents continually had to tell kids not to turn the page or not to touch the tablets, according to Chiong.
The implication? Parents and teachers should choose basic e-books like the Kindle or Nook over enhanced e-books, such as the iPad, if they want a more literacy-focused co-reading experience with children. Prompting kids with questions that relate to the text, labeling and naming objects, and encouraging kids to talk about the book’s content from their own perspective all elicit Continue reading