Mixing the old with the new could help to improve children's literacy skills

Jun 2012
A new study has suggested that enhanced e-books may not necessarily help children's literacy skills as they can distract children from both the story and narrative.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre in New York, have found that e-books do encourage children to read, but the aesthetics that accompany such a device often takes the child's focus away from the core of the story.

The research involved 32 pairs of parents with children aged between three and six who were then used to compare the success of reading with printed books and e-books.

Each family was provided with a story in the form of either a basic or enhanced e-book, as well as a printed version of the exact same story.

The research revealed that e-books would take the child's focus away from the narrative and other details and cause the child to place an emphasis on the surrounding aesthetics.

Cynthia Chiong, Lori Takeuchi, Ingrid Erickson and Jinny Ree, who conducted the study, commented on the findings of their research in an official report.

"The enhanced ebook was less effective than the print and basic e-book in supporting the benefits of co-reading because it prompted more non-content related interactions," the report stated.

The study also highlighted that children reading enhanced e-books recalled "significantly fewer narrative details than children who read the print version" of the very same story.

The study also found that: "When adults prompt children with questions pertaining to the text, label objects, and encourage them to discuss the book contents in terms of their own experiences and curiosities, this elicits increased verbalisation by the child and can lead to improved vocabulary and overall language development."

It seems that e-books have a genuine purpose and place in the lives of children, especially when children refuse to engage in reading.

As the research reflects though, successful comprehension and learning with a combination of both the new (e-books) and old (printed books) is potentially the most effective method for helping to improve your child's literacy skills.