Reading with Kids: Are eBooks as Good as Printed Books?

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African American Family Using Tablet Computer

We’re inundated with technology. For better or worse, it’s everywhere including how we read. The popularity of eBooks is growing among adults and kids alike and for good reason. It’s tough to beat the convenience and the immediacy of having lots of reading material on one slim, portable device. However, when it comes to kids and eBooks, we have to wonder if this electronic, touch screen responsiveness is good for their developing brains? Or are traditional printed books better for young readers who are building their literacy skills? Those are difficult questions to answer, but here are some points to consider.
Technology Allows for More
Early education specialists see both pros and cons of what eBooks can offer. The technology allows for more interactivity, like Q and A’s to promote understanding as well as animations instead of static images and an audio track to read the book to kids. These are all huge advantages over printed books. However, eBooks may discourage the patience that traditional books teach and require. Plus, if there’s too much animation in an eBook, it’s not really a book — it’s more like a TV show.
Also, eBooks may discourage parent-child interaction. Parents may not feel obligated to read to their kids if there’s an eBook voice to do it for them, and research suggests that they’re less likely to talk to kids about eBooks than printed books.
The Cool Factor
While most kids have a natural love of books and want to learn how to read, some simply don’t. However, those same kids love to play with iPads, so eBooks may be extremely beneficial for kids who are averse to reading, especially if they’re reading eBooks with more interactive features. However, reading an eBook is still technically screen time, which according to the American Association of Pediatrics, is something that kids should have limited access to. The AAP suggests limiting it to less than two hours a day for kids.
Financial Pros and Cons
If you have an ereader at home, buying eBooks is typically less expensive than buying printed books because you’re paying for only the copyright and not for actual materials. Plus, many municipal libraries have eBook collections from which their patrons can borrow. These are fantastic because not only are they free to read, but they’ll never rack up overdue fines, as they just delete themselves from your ereader when your borrowing period has ended. However, lots of school libraries are already heavily invested in printed books and may not have the capital to purchase eBooks and enough ereaders for students. Schools that can make a bigger move to eBooks and ereaders, though, have access to many more titles as compared with printed books.
A Verdict
Ultimately, both eBooks and printed books are great learning tools when they are used properly. There’s definitely a place for both in developing early literacy skills and teaching kids to love reading. Parents want to be sure that they are choosing high quality eBooks for their kids, such as the ones you’ll find at iStorybooks. Also, parents should remember that a device, no matter how advanced it is, is not a substitute for reading time and interaction with their children. Whether it’s with eBooks or printed books, encouraging kids gives them a lifetime of fruitful and enjoyable education.