While enhanced ebooks engage young children with their interactive elements, print or basic ebooks may be more effective for encouraging literacy, according to a new study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
The findings, released May 29, are from a “QuickReport” on the experience of 32 pairs of parents reading a print book and ebook on an iPad together with their children, ages 3 to 6. Small sampling notwithstanding, the results do support earlier studies that establish distinct differences in the print and digital experience, particularly with enhanced ebooks. And further investigation is indicated, according to the report.
Noted in the QuickStudy:
- Children who read enhanced ebooks recalled significantly fewer details than subjects who read the same story in print. The features of the enhanced ebook may divert the attention of both parents and children from the narrative, which may have affected the kids’ ability to recall the story, concluded researchers.
- Reading a print or basic ebook with their parents prompted similar content-related actions by children—including labeling, pointing, and verbal elaboration of the story—which can support language development. On the other hand, the enhanced ebook drew activity—e.g. “device-focused talk”—unrelated to the book’s content.
So what’s a parent or teacher to do? Opt for print or basic ebooks to build literacy, recommends the QuickStudy researchers. But it’s hard to beat the sheer appeal of enhanced works, notes the report, which can go far in encouraging the very young, especially those reluctant to engage books at all.
Photograph by sean dreilinger