New research suggests that when it comes to teaching a child to read that children's print books are better than reading a digital book. A recent article from the New York Times highlights several studies pointing to the advantages a printed book provides.
Benefits of Children's Print Books
The author of the article; Dr. Perri Kalss, the National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, cites a University of Michigan study published in the journal Pediatrics. Below are some highlights from the study and other research that talk about the benefits a print book has over a digital one.
Researchers found that as parents held the printed books and turned the pages that children asked more questions. Both parent and child were engaged in more back and forth discussion as parents answered questions, made jokes, and helped the learner better understand what was happening in the story.
The study found that the tablet itself was making it harder for parents and children to have that rich back and forth turn taking that was happening in the print books.
When reading printed books, parents pointed to pictures on the page more often. This connection between what they were hearing and what the pictures were showing helps children to begin to collect context. Understanding the context better helped them retain more of the story.
Child development experts have long known that when more of the senses are engaged a child learns better. When a child helps the parent turn the pages their brains are stimulated by that additional sense of touch. That added engaged sense helps them build the neurological pathways that help them learn.
Personalized Children's Print Books
A great way to make a connection to what children are reading is to make it personal. Hooray Heroes does just that by allowing a parent or grandparent to create an avatar character of their child. Children see themselves actively participating in the book. When they see the cartoon version of themselves they are instantly interested, and it grabs their attention.
This is a great example of how a custom web to print children’s book can help a child learn to read. The overall reading experience is more interesting and enjoyable on both sides. The New York Times article summarizes the value of the parent child reading experience:
"...clearly parents play an important role. The book that stimulates the dialogue between parent and toddler is also the child’s introduction to the pleasures of written language and stories. The pleasure that a parent takes in reading helps shape a growing child’s attitude. And the message to parents should not be that they’re doing it wrong (we all know we’re doing things wrong, just as we all know that we’re doing our best), but that parents really matter."
The next time you want to read with your young ones put away the tablet and pick up a children's print book. It will be a more enriching experience for both you and your child.